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Caring for Your Teeth When You Have Dry Mouth

Chronic dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a common condition, affecting about 10% of all people. It’s most common among older adults and people taking medications. If it’s not treated, it can cause serious problems for your oral health. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your teeth and gums while treating this condition.

Symptoms

Xerostomia occurs when the glands in your mouth are not producing enough saliva. This can cause a number of issues in your mouth and throat. Some of the symptoms you may experience include:

  • A dry or sticky feeling in your mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Thick or stringy saliva
  • Changes in your sense of taste
  • A burning or tingling sensation on your tongue
  • Redness or a raw sensation on your tongue
  • Hoarseness or dryness of your throat

If you have been experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk to your dentist. They’ll be able to conduct a thorough exam to determine the root causes. Depending on the results, they may also refer you to another doctor for additional tests or treatment.

Causes

Xerostomia can be caused by many different conditions. Some of the most common causes include:

  • The side effects of many medications, including common prescriptions for hypertension, anxiety, depression, pain treatment and Parkinson’s disease. Over the counter medications for allergies can also be a factor.
  • Medical treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation
  • Medical conditions like diabetes, Hepatitis C, lymphoma, rheumatoid arthritis and Sjögren’s syndrome
  • Nerve damage in the head or neck
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco

In some cases, people can make changes to address their symptoms, like switching to a different medication or giving up smoking. For other people, dry mouth is a condition they may have to cope with permanently. In this situation, it’s especially important to practice good oral hygiene to reduce the risk of serious consequences.

Effects on Your Health

Saliva serves many purposes for your oral health. It washes away pieces of food, neutralizes acids produced by bacteria to protect your teeth from cavities, helps break down food for digestion, and makes it easier to chew and swallow. When you aren’t getting enough saliva, it can cause a number of problems, including:

  • Tooth decay
  • Gum disease
  • Mouth sores
  • Yeast infection (thrush)
  • Difficulty eating or speaking

These issues need to be addressed before they lead to problems like tooth loss or poor nutrition. Fortunately, there are many treatments for people suffering from xerostomia.

Treatments

Some treatments for xerostomia require prescriptions, but many are over the counter. In many cases, there are easy steps you can take that require very little change to your daily routine but can make all the difference when it comes to the future of your health. The most common treatments include:

  • Oral rinses designed to treat dry mouth
  • Medication to stimulate saliva
  • Sugar-free cough drops or gum
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Artificial saliva substitutes

Sometimes, just treating symptoms isn’t enough. People living with extreme dry mouth have to take extra care to prevent tooth decay and gum disease, which is common in people with xerostomia. These steps can include:

  • Brushing your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Visits to the dentist at least twice a year for cleanings and monitoring of your dental health
  • Regular rinses with a fluoride treatment
  • Use of antibacterial or antifungal mouthwash

Your dentist may have additional recommendations based on your individual needs. Xerostomia can require you to take extra steps when it comes to your oral health. However, there are many ways you can change your routine to feel better and save yourself pain and more serious oral health concerns in the future.

Anxiety-Free Dental Care

LifeSmiles by Randy Mitchmore, DDS provides world class dental care in a calming, anxiety-free environment. If you suffer from dental problems caused by dry mouth, we’re here to help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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Sally May-Frankum
Dental Hygienist

Sally’s favorite part about working with the team at LifeSmiles is the fun she has with her co-workers. Additionally, she appreciates working with Dr. Randy Mitchmore because much like her, he values whole-body health for his patients. She’s proud to be part of a team that does such high quality work.

Outside of the office: Sally enjoys being with her children and grandchildren and uses writing as a creative outlet. On the weekends, she can be found doing all things outdoors including hiking and biking.

 

Bucket List: Going to Europe, exploring every US state, and zip-lining.

Hero: The Highest Power of them all!

Toni Wilson
Queen of Charisma

 “Every great dream begins with a dreamer.”

Toni’s favorite thing about working at LifeSmiles is the beautiful scenery. When patients are having anxiety about their dental appointments, she creates a fearless atmosphere with her charisma and warmth. She is passionate about helping every patient achieve their dental health goals. She says she truly loves being part of a team where she can grow professionally and personally.

Outside the office: Toni loves spending time with her husband and their sons. She also likes to show off her green thumb with her work in her garden.


Bucket list item:
Travel around the world and learn about other cultures and regions.

Your hero: Harriet Tubman because she was passionate and a fearless leader unafraid of any of life’s challenges.

Mike Mireles
Elite Care and Education Specialist

Smiling is contagious

Mike began his career at LifeSmiles seeking an opportunity to expand his skillset and advance his career. Today he works at Dr. Michmore’s side through dental procedures and surgeries. He loves working at LifeSmiles because the entire team is continually learning and keeping up to date with the newest advancements in dentistry.

Outside the office: Mike enjoys barbecuing on his patio, traveling, and spending time with his family. He’s a dog dad of two: Tati and Tito.


Bucket list item:
To visit Thailand and Dubai and to try skydiving!

Your hero: Mike looks up to his parents and is forever grateful for the life lesson they taught him; respect, manners, strength, and to be a go-getter. He continues to carry these things with him with everything he does.

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Sandra Smith
Ambassador

Sandra is 44 years old and is a star athlete for the Special Olympics. At LifeSmiles, Sandra stocks patient rooms and the coffee bar. She does all kinds of special projects like decorating for holidays and preparing awesome gifts for our patients.

Sandra loves being around all her friends and is proud to wear a LifeSmiles shirt, jacket, and name badge. You’ll always find her smiling and helping make our patients smile too.

Outside the Office: Sandra likes to go fishing with her family, swim, go to dances, and walk the mall with her friends. She is very active in the Special Olympics and won second place in the state volleyball tournament (go, Sandra!) in 2020. She sings in her church choir and attends international performances with them.

Spirit Animal: Butterfly. She likes them because they are pretty.

Andie Willis
Director of Details

Andie is married with one son, Logan and now lives in The Woodlands. She grew up in Sugar Land and has followed in her mother’s footsteps – she has been in dentistry for over 35 years. Andie actually started out working in the office with her mom and learned many things from the way she worked.

Andie has been a Lead Dental Assistant for most of her career. She has worked for many specialists including oral surgeons and periodontists. She has extensive training in all facets of dentistry but especially enjoys the surgical and cosmetic side. As a science nerd, dentistry fascinates Andie and gives her a sense of accomplishment.

At LifeSmiles, she is our “Director of Details”. Andie is known for being a perfectionist because she likes to gather as much information as possible and go the extra mile to match Dr. Mitchmore’s high standards. She truly loves being part of our dedicated team of professionals who go above and beyond for our amazing patients.

Outside of the Office: Andie is addicted to Lagree fitness and loves to go off-shore fishing.

Your Hero: Her Mom. She is the most selfless person Andie knows.

John Copous
Chief Enthusiasm Officer

John became a new patient of LifeSmiles in 2008. He likes to tell people he was not allowed to leave. John worked down the street for 14 years before joining the team. He has a passion for meeting new people and extending genuine hospitality.

Often the first person people meet on the phone and when they walk in the door, you can count on John for a warm welcoming smile. You can even ‘hear’ it over the phone. He says, “I believe everyone deserves the red carpet treatment and love seeing other people smile.”

John hears stories every day how someone’s smile is holding them back. He can barely contain his excitement when shouting the praises of Dr. Mitchmore and the entire team. He shares passionate stories of how the transformations people have received at LifeSmiles, changed their lives.

Outside the Office: John loves being outside. He enjoys sharing a beach house with friends and family. He loves entertaining, throwing a party and cooking at home. He can start a conversation with anyone, anywhere. He’s an amateur stand-up comic.

Bucket List Item: To live in a foreign country for one year, somewhere near the beach. Take some time to write an epic love novel loosely based on my large Italian family.

Your Hero: “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”. While fictional, the character incorporates admirable qualities from real life people. She believes in the goodness of everyone, keeps on going and moves forward despite any obstacle. She is able to find humor in other people’s quirks, accepts them and makes sense of it all. Plus, she’s a little outrageous too.