Certain medications, age, smoking or particular foods and beverages can contribute to a dry mouth. A dry mouth enables oral bacteria to ‘hang around’ and multiply. The longer it remains in your mouth, the more reproduce. This build up is the beginning of the sticky film that forms plaque. While daily brushing and flossing curtail the accumulation of bacteria, a sufficient flow of saliva provides a continual support system to your efforts.
Your saliva is far more than just moisture in your mouth. Modern science is now using saliva as the body’s window for exposing all types of medical and dental problems. Tests can now use saliva to determine the type and quantity of your oral bacteria to reveal if you are at greater risk for developing gum infections.
Not only is saliva a necessary part of your oral health, it may become a crystal ball for your entire body in the not so distant future! Research is on the brink of using saliva to reveal the early presence of oral cancer, ovarian cancer, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer and Sjogren’s syndrome. Researchers are also working on tests that use saliva to show the presence of tumors in the body and even where they are located.
Even though this research is exciting, we already know it is vital to take every step to maintain excellent oral health. Research has shown a link between periodontal (gum) disease bacteria and heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and some forms of cancer.
An estimated 75% of Americans over 35 have some form of periodontal disease. Gum disease is also the nation’s leading cause of tooth loss. Missing teeth create a long list of problems, from gastrointestinal to psychological.
To combat dry mouth, drink plenty of water throughout the day, use oral rinses especially made for dry mouth and be dedicated to your brushing and flossing routine. If you take medications that are drying, ask your physician if there are alternatives without this side effect. Since drinking alcoholic beverages and smoking are especially drying to oral tissues, users should be diligent with their oral health commitment. And, by all means, keep your 6-month check-ups and cleanings without fail. These appointments remove build-up that has accumulated to minimize or eliminate damage to teeth and gums.