Dry Mouth: Symptoms and Treatment

Reduced saliva flow that results in a dry mouth is a common problem among older adults. It is caused by certain medical disorders and is often a side effect of medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, pain killers and diuretics.

Some symptoms you may experience if you have dry mouth are:

  • A constant sore throat
  • Burning sensation
  • Problems speaking
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Hoarseness
  • Dry nasal passages

Left untreated, dry mouth can damage your teeth. Without adequate saliva to lubricate your mouth, wash away food, and neutralize the acids produced by plaque, extensive decay can occur. Your dentist can recommend various methods to restore moisture. Sugar-free candy or gum stimulates saliva flow, and moisture can be replaced by using artificial saliva and oral rinses. Semiannual dental visits are essential in order to ensure the health of your mouth. Schedule your semiannual dentist appointment today using your True Dental Discount plan and save big while sustaining your oral health.

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Q: What is sialadenitis?

A: In short, sialadenitis is a disorder of the salivary gland. One of several related disorders, this condition is caused by a painful bacterial infection in a person’s salivary gland. Many times, this infection is caused by staphylococcus or anaerobic bacteria. According to researchers at Harvard Medical School, sialadenitis is most common in elderly adults and very young infants. Symptoms include a painful lump in the cheek or under the chin, or foul-tasting pus released into the mouth from the salivary duct. In severe cases, the person may experience flu-like symptoms, including a fever and chills. The most severe cases usually occur in elderly people who do not receive treatment for their symptoms.

Researchers suggest that several factors may increase a person’s risk of developing sialadenitis, including dehydration, malnutrition, chronic illness, and certain medications like antihistamines and diuretics. Infants who are born prematurely and people in professions like trumpet-playing and glassblowing may also be at increased risk. If you or someone in your family is faced with sialadenitis, it is important to seek the help of a health care professional. A doctor or dentist can gently examine your head and neck to check for any potential gland issues. Fortunately, sialadenitis can typically be cured with an antibiotic that causes symptoms to subside within a couple days. In more severe cases, surgery can be performed to drain the gland.

So remember: If you ever notice a lump or swelling in your neck, jaw, or mouth, contact a dentist on your True Dental Discounts, dental plan immediately – particularly if the lump is painful or makes it difficult to chew or swallow. Awareness of your body is the first step toward remaining healthy, so stay alert and seek help when needed.

Can Oral Care for Babies Prevent Future Cavities?

Cavities are the most prevalent infectious disease in U.S. children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Statistics show that the most prevalent disease in U.S. children is tooth decay.  The reality is that before the child reaches kindergarten nearly 40% will have at least 1cavitiy.  The problem is even more predominant in areas of low socioeconomic demographics.

Research is being done that is changing the preconceived belief that the children ages 19 and 33 months are most susceptible to tooth decay; now more and more researchers believe that this window occurs at a much younger age.

The bacteria in infant’s mouths have been shown to be much more diverse and the soft tissue of the mouth works as a reservoir of pathogens prior to the teeth erupting.  It is important to refrain your infants from formula containing sugar and you should wipe off the infants gums with a wet cloth to remove harmful bacteria formation that occurs on the gum line.

The advantages of X-rays at the dentist

If you’ve ever seen an X-ray photo of your mouth, you’ve probably noticed that your teeth appear much lighter than the rest of the surfaces. This is because X-rays cannot penetrate hard surfaces like teeth as easily as they can gums and tissue. But why is it so important to get these high-tech photos of your mouth? The main reason is because many oral health problems cannot easily be detected during a normal examination. It’s possible for a patient to have spots of decay that are not visible to the dentist. By looking at an X-ray, dentists can look for signs of decay between teeth, gum disease, bone infections, and many other serious conditions, including hidden tumors.

The American Dental Association suggests that children are especially good candidates for X-rays, as their teeth are still developing and are more prone to tooth decay. Another benefit of X-rays is that patients can save time and money by catching any hidden problems early. X-rays may even help someone avoid having to undergo the complicated procedures that advanced-stage conditions often require. Talk to your dentist about your X-ray schedule and ask if you (or your children) are due for another screening. A little extra time in the chair at your next visit could pay off dramatically down the road.

The connection between periodontal disease and menopause

Menopause is a time of great change for women’s health and bodies. One area that is often overlooked, though, is the change women go through regarding their oral health at this time. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, women who are menopausal or post-menopausal may discover that their mouths have become uncomfortable. Many experience dry mouth, gum tissue pain, and a changed sense of taste, particularly in salty, peppery or sour flavors.

A small number of women also experience menopausal gingivostomatitis, which involves gums that look dry/shiny, bleed easily and are abnormally colored (very pale to very dark). The academy notes that estrogen supplements and Hormone Replacement Therapy may help protect women’s teeth and get rid of these symptoms. It’s important to talk to your doctor and dentist about the changes you notice in your mouth during menopause so you can start returning to normal as quickly as possible.

Is there too much sugar in your diet?

We all know that eating a lot of sugar can have negative effects on our physical health. It can cause weight gain, energy swings and a weakened immune system. But what effects does sugar have on your oral health? According to the American Dental Association, when bacteria/plaque comes into contact with sugar in a person’s mouth, the acid that gets produced can damage teeth for 20 minutes or longer. Over time, this damage results in tooth decay. In addition, foods that are high in sugar are often filled with empty calories and lack other nutrients that are good for your health. These sugary foods can lead to poor nutrition, which the ADA suggests can lead to faster progression of gum disease.

Dietary habits are often developed in childhood, so it’s especially important for adults to teach their kids to eat healthily and get plenty of fruits, vegetables and calcium from a young age. Other precautionary steps include drinking a lot of water, limiting snacks in between meals, brushing twice a day, flossing, and visiting the dentist regularly. It may also help to keep track of all the food you eat so you can chart your progress and notice patterns of sugary food consumption. Talk to your dentist about your eating habits and develop a plan to cut back on sugar-filled foods. It’s a commitment that will benefit your body and your teeth!

Should I get my tongue or lip pierced?

A surprising number of people, particularly teenagers, express an interest in getting an oral piercing. The tongue, lips, and cheeks are all common piercing sites in the mouth. But how does such a piercing affect your oral health? The American Dental Association discourages oral piercings not only because of the physical pain they cause, but also because of the extensive healing time of open sores in the mouth. It can take weeks, and sometimes even months, for these wounds to heal, particularly for more complicated procedures like getting the tongue split into a fork. These procedures can also be very dangerous, as there are lots of blood vessels in the mouth, and sensitive areas are prone to infection.

Swelling, increased salivary production, scars, and speech interference are all possible following an oral piercing. Finally, the American Dental Association has also expressed concerns about foreign objects in the mouth and their tendency to obstruct X-rays. This could be critical to a person’s health in the case of a misdiagnosis. However, even so, it is recognized that oral piercings are a common occurrence. If you are considering getting your tongue, lips, or cheeks pierced, talk to your dentist first. He or she may be able to discuss this topic in more depth and advise you on the best course of action.

How sealants can save your child’s teeth from decay

One of the best-kept “secrets” when it comes to children’s oral health is the sealant. These decay-preventing treatments are simple, painless, and effective – yet only about one-third of children have them, according to the National Institutes of Health. Sealants are essentially painted on to a child’s teeth and act as a shield against harmful bacteria and sugars. This treatment is especially important for the back molars, as they contain deeper ridges and are harder to clean with a toothbrush. During the simple procedure, your child’s dentist will clean and dry the targeted tooth. A solution is then applied to roughen the surface of the tooth and help the sealant stick more effectively. Next, the tooth is dried and the liquid sealant is applied. Within a few seconds, the sealant hardens into the ridges of the tooth and is ready to start protecting your child’s mouth from decay. That’s it – really!

The National Institutes of Health suggests that children who get sealants are able to save time and money later on because they have fewer fillings and other decay-correcting procedures. Best of all, with proper care, sealants can last up to a decade. During that time, if your dentist starts to notice any wear, he or she can reapply the sealant. According to the National Institutes of Health, the most critical time to apply sealants is as soon as a child’s back molars erupt. This generally occurs between the ages of 5 and 7 for the first set, and again between 11 and 14 for the “12-year molars.” To learn more about sealants and guarding your child’s teeth against decay, talk with a dentist on your True Dental Discounts, dental plan. It’s one of the most important investments you can make toward your children’s health.

What is burning mouth syndrome?

Imagine waking up, going about your day, and suddenly feeling like your tongue, lips and mouth are scalding. You didn’t burn your mouth on any hot liquids, but it certainly feels like it. Then, you notice numbness on the tip of your tongue and start tasting metal. This is a reality for the thousands of people who have burning mouth syndrome. Originally thought to have been caused by psychological issues like anxiety, burning mouth syndrome still baffles dentists and doctors with its varying nature. Burning mouth syndrome is a chronic problem that most often occurs in middle-aged or older women. It can last for years and may either present as constant pain or come and go in cycles. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, burning mouth syndrome has a host of possible causes, including hormonal changes (such as during menopause), nutritional deficiencies, acid reflux, and damage to the nerves that control pain and taste.

Research has shown that many people with chronic burning mouth syndrome develop depression or anxiety disorders, which makes treatment and awareness even more important. Testing for burning mouth syndrome may include blood work and allergy testing. In some cases, patients develop burning mouth syndrome due to an allergic reaction to their denture materials. Once diagnosed, treatment varies depending on the patient’s symptoms. Examples include treating a corroborating disease such as diabetes; switching prescription medication; replacing dentures; prescribing nutritional supplements; and recommending medication to treat depression.

National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research also suggests several self-treatments to relieve the pain caused by burning mouth syndrome, such as drinking water frequently; avoiding acidic foods and mouthwashes with alcohol; chewing sugarless gum; sucking on ice chips; and brushing your teeth with baking soda and water. It is also important to avoid alcohol and tobacco.

If you suspect you may suffer from burning mouth syndrome, schedule an appointment with your True Dental Discounts, dentist immediately and work with him or her to relieve your symptoms. Your dentist can suggest alternate pain-management methods and help you determine a possible cause.

Navigate the sweets-trap this holiday season

With Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, people across the country are preparing to enjoy delicious meals and even more scrumptious desserts. Contrary to popular belief, you can indulge in a few holiday treats without doing damage to your teeth – as long as you know a few helpful tips, of course. According to the American Dental Association, one of the key factors in tooth decay is the amount of time food stays in your mouth. For example, a sticky candy cane is far more likely to cause plaque and decay than a piece of holiday chocolate because the hard candy tends to stay around your teeth for much longer. As that candy sits in the crevices of your teeth and gums, its sugars and acids begin to attack your teeth until it is either washed or brushed away.

For this reason, the ADA suggests that people eat any sugary foods with meals. Eating increases the production of saliva and helps rinse sugary particles away more quickly. If you must consume sugary candies or foods between meals, consider chewing sugarless gum afterward. Like eating, chewing gum also increases the flow of saliva. Along the same lines, drinking fluoridated water can also help eliminate sugary residue, so it’s a good idea to increase your water intake over the holidays, as well. Finally, it may be common sense, but many people forget to brush their teeth at least twice a day. This habit is especially important during the holiday season when sweet treats are abundant and busy schedules make people forgetful. For more information and advice specific to your individual life, talk to your True Care dental plan dentist. It is possible to enjoy the holidays – and the desserts – that you are accustomed to without sacrificing your oral health.