Dental Problems

Is Dry Mouth Common in Elders?

Dry mouth, also called xerostomia, is a common problem among older adults. In fact, the Oral Cancer Foundation estimates that 20 percent of elderly people suffer from dry mouth and this condition is also a hidden cause of tooth loss and gum disease in 30 percent of adults.

Dry mouth, which is the reduced flow of saliva, could be a symptom of a particular medical condition or a side effect of certain medications. Common medications taken that may cause dry mouth are:

* Antihistamines
* Blood pressure medications
* Pain pills
* Decongestants
* Incontinence medications
* Antidepressants
* Diuretics
* Muscle relaxers
* Parkinson’s disease medications

Sufficient saliva is needed in the mouth to wash away food debris and reduce plaque by neutralizing the acids that plaque produces. Severe tooth decay, as well as other mouth problems, often occur if dry mouth is left untreated. Other common problems linked to dry mouth are:

* Difficulty speaking
* Hoarseness
* Persistent sore throat
* Problems with speaking
* Problems with swallowing
* Burning sensation in the mouth
* Dry nasal passages
* Difficulty wearing dentures

If you suffer from dry mouth, be sure to discuss treatment methods, such as saliva substitutes, with your dentist. Sugar-free gum and candy also can increase saliva flow.

Since extensive tooth decay is often a result of dry mouth, brushing at least twice a day, flossing daily, regular dental check ups and eating nutritious foods are essential to keeping your mouth healthy.

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