Category Archives: Dry mouth

Suffering From Dry Mouth?

Dry mouth (also called xerostomia) is caused by a decrease in the amount of saliva in the mouth when the salivary glands do not work properly. The salivary glands help keep your mouth moist, which helps prevent tooth decay and other oral health problems. Saliva helps wash away cavity-causing bacteria, provides enzymes to help digest food, protects teeth from decay by neutralizing harmful acids and keeps oral tissues healthy. Without saliva you would lose your teeth much faster

Dry mouthWhat causes Dry Mouth?
Prescription and over-the-counter medications are the most common cause. There are over 400 medications that can cause it, but the most common culprits are antihypertensives, antidepressants, painkillers, tranquilizers, diuretics and antihistamines. It can also happen when you are under stress or be a sign of a serious health condition. Other causes include radiation therapy and chemotherapy or diseases such as AIDS, diabetes or Sjogren’s syndrome.

Dry mouth can cause several problems including difficulty in tasting, chewing or swallowing. It also allows plaque to build up on your teeth faster leading to a high risk of cavities. It can also lead to bad breath, ulceration or soreness of the mouth, gum disease and difficulty in wearing dentures.

How do I treat dry mouth?Dry mouth relief
Many treatments can help ease the symptoms of dry mouth, including over-the-counter saliva substitutes. Remember to brush and floss twice a day. You may also chew sugar-free gum. Try to avoid alcohol and caffeine, smoking, acidic juices, dry foods, and overly salty foods. Drink plenty of water and maintain regular dental visits.

Senior Oral Health Care

Seniors smilingProper oral care can keep you smiling well into retirement.  Brushing at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristle brush are important. Flossing helps save your teeth by removing plaque between teeth and below the gum line that your toothbrush can’t reach.

What problems should I watch for?Image gum disease

Most people don’t realize how important it is to take care of their gums.  Gingivitis is caused by the bacteria found in plaque that attacks the gums. Symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen gums and possible bleeding when you brush.  If you have any of these symptoms, see Dr. Marinic at once. Gingivitis can lead to a more serious form of gum disease if problems persist.

Why should I be concerned about gum disease?

Three out of four adults over age 35 are affected by some sort of gum (periodontal) disease.  In gum disease, the infection may become severe. Your gums begin to recede, pulling back from the teeth.  In the worst caseswollen gums from gum diseases, bacteria form pockets between the teeth and gums, weakening the bone.  This can lead to tooth loss if untreated, especially in patients with osteoporosis.  If regular oral care is too difficult, Dr. Marinic can provide alternatives to aid in flossing and prescribe medication to keep the infection from getting worse.

Should I be concerned about dry mouth?Water and faucet

Dry mouth happens when salivary glands fail to work due to disease, changes in medication, certain medications or cancer treatment.  This makes it hard to eat, swallow, taste and speak.  Drinking lots of water and avoiding sweets, tobacco, alcohol and caffeine are some ways to fight dry mouth.

Dr. Marinic talking to patientHow can I maintain my overall health?

Studies have shown maintaining a healthy mouth can keep your body healthier and help you avoid diabetes, heart disease and stroke.  Keep Dr. Marinic informed of any changes or updates in your medical history to help prevent potentially harmful drug interactions or health conditions.  The best way to achieve good oral health is to visit Dr. Marinic for professional teeth cleaning at least twice a year.

What if it’s too difficult to brush?Large handle toothbrush

If you have arthritis, you may find it difficult to brush and floss.  Ask Dr. Marinic for ways to overcome this problem.  Certain dental products are designed to make dental care less painful for arthritis sufferers.  Try using a battery operated toothbrush with a large handle.  These toothbrushes can help by doing some of the work for you.

What are the signs of oral cancer?

Oral cancer most often occurs in people over 40 years of age.  See Dr. Marinic imOral cancermediately if you notice any red or white patches on your gums or tongue, sores that fail to heal within two weeks, or an unusual hard spot on the side of your tongue.  Oral cancer is often difficult to detect in its early stages, when it can be cured easily.  Dr. Marinic can perform a head and neck exam to screen for signs of cancer.

Sleep Apnea – Do You Suffer?

What is sleep apnea?

Man sleepingSleep apnea is a serious, potentially life threatening sleep disorder that affects approximately 18 million Americans.  It owes its name to the Greek word apnea (meaning “want of breath”) and refers to episodes in which a person stops breathing for 10 seconds or more during sleep.  With each episode, the sleeper’s brain briefly wakes up in order to resume breathing, resulting in extremely fragmented and poor-quality sleep.  If you suspect you suffer from sleep apnea or if you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, Dr. Marinic can work closely with your physician to implement and manage a prescribed therapy.

What are the different types of sleep apnea?

There are two major types of sleep apnea, both of which can severely disrupt the regular sleep cycle.

  • Obstructive apnea:  As you sleep, the muscles in the walls of your throat relax to the point where the airway collapses and prevents air from flowing into your nose and mouth, but efforts to breathe continue.  This is the most common type of apnea.
  • Central apnea:  Breathing interruptions during sleep are caused by problems with the brain mechanisms that control breathing.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

People with sleep apnea usually do not remember waking up during the night.  Indications of the problem may include:Woman with headache

  • Morning headaches
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Irritability and impaired mental or emotional functioning
  • Excessive snoring, choking, or gasping during sleep
  • Insomnia
  • Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat

What’s the difference between snoring and sleep apnea?

Couple one snoringUnlike mild snoring, individuals with sleep apnea stop breathing completely for 10 seconds or more, typically between 10 and 60 times in a single night.  If your partner hears loud snoring punctuated by silences and then a snort or choking sound as you resume breathing, this pattern could signal sleep apnea.

Why is sleep apnea a concern?

Studies have shown that people with this potentially life-threatening disorderWoman sleeping on computer are so fatigued during the day that, when driving, their performance is similar to that of a drunk driver. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to impaired daytime functioning, high blood pressure, heart attack, and even stroke.

How can my dentist help?

If your dentist suspects you suffer from sleep apnea, he or she will refer you to a physician, often a sleep medicine specialist. Diagnosis and treatment is based on your medical history, physical examination, and the results of a polysomnography – an overnight sleep study, which measures heart rate and how many times breathing is interrupted during sleep.

If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, your dentist can work closely with your physician to implement and manage your therapy.

What are the treatment options?

If you have mild obstructive sleep apnea, initial treatment may include avoiding sleeping on your back, losing weight, or cessation of smoking. Dental appliances, such as the Thornton Adjustable Positioner ® (TAP®), which reposition the lower jaw and the tongue, have been helpful to some patients with mild sleep apnea.

If you have severe sleep apnea, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) systems are a commonly prescribed therapy. CPAP delivers air through a small mask that covers the nose, and the constant pressure keeps the airway open, which prevents both snoring and episodes of apnea. For patients who have trouble tolerating CPAP, other treatments, including surgery, can eliminate sleep apnea symptoms.

 

Xylitol – A Popular Sugar Free Substitute

XylitolXylitol is a sugar alcohol sweetener that is found in birch tree bark, beets, corncobs, raspberries, mushrooms, and other natural sources.  Its sweetness is equal to that of sugar, but it has about 40 percent fewer calories, making it a popular sugar-free substitute.  Xylitol not only cuts calories, it also cuts cavities!

How does xylitol prevent cavities?

Xylitol helps prevent Streptococcus mutans, the primary bacterium associated with dental caries, from attaching to teeth and tissues in the mouth.  Xylitol cannot be metabolized by bacteria; as a result, the process that creates harmful, enamel-eating acids is drastically slowed.  Regular use of xylitol has been shown to help reduce dental plaque – the first stage of cavity development, tartar formation, and tooth staining – and promote better oral health.

How often must I use xylitol for it to be effective?Xylitol gum

Xylitol is a natural and convenient way to supplement daily dental care.  Xylitol gum or mints used three to five times daily (for a total intake of 5 grams) is considered optimal.  Because frequency and duration of exposure is important, gum should be chewed for approximately five minutes and mints should be allowed to dissolve.  Dentists who recommend using xylitol immediately after meals and snacks to help reduce plaque, do so to inhibit adhesion of bacteria to the teeth, and reduce contact time of sugar on teeth.

Has xylitol been evaluated for safety?

Yes. Human consumption of xylitol has been confirmed for safety by a number of agencies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the World Health Organization’s Joint Expert DogCommittee on Food Additives, and the European Union’s Scientific Committee on Food.  Pet owners should note, however, that xylitol is harmful to dogs.  To prevent xylitol poisoning, dog owners should be aware of products that contain xylitol as a sweetener, and keep those products out of the reach of their dogs.

What products contain xylitol and how do I find them?

Products containing xylitol have been available in the United States for a Xylitol sweetnernumber of years, but only recently have its use become main stream.  Today, xylitol can be readily found in chewing gums, toothpastes, mouthwashes and other oral care products, candies, and some pharmaceuticals.  On food labels, xylitol is classified broadly as a carbohydrate and more narrowly as a polyol.  To learn more about xylitol products, talk to Dr. Marinic.

Fluoride Treatments – Are They Really Necessary?

Water and faucetFluoride is a natural mineral that is found in various concentrations in soil and drinking water.

Why is fluoride important?

Every day, a tooth’s enamel (the outer layer that makes a tooth hard) has minerals both added to it (remineralization) and removed from it (demineralization).  During Tooth anatomyremineralization, minerals such as fluoride, calcium, and phosphate are added to the enamel layer via foods and drinks that contain these minerals.  Minerals are lost (demineralization) when acids—from bacteria in the mouth and certain foods and drinks – attack the enamel.  Tooth decay results when the enamel loses more minerals than it receives.

How does fluoride prevent tooth decay?

Fluoride helps to prevent tooth decay by making the tooth more resistant to acid attacks.  Fluoride also helps to speed remineralization of erupted teeth in both children and adults.

Where is fluoride found?

Fluoride toothpasteAlthough some foods, such as seafood and certain teas, naturally contain fluoride, the primary source of fluoride is drinking water.  Tap water in most cities in the United States contains fluoride.  Some, but not all, bottled waters contain fluoride.  Fluoride also can be applied directly to teeth through toothpastes and mouth rinses that contain fluoride.  You can buy these products at most pharmacies and grocery stores.

Dr. Marinic and/or his hygienist can also apply fluoride directly to your teeth in the form of a gel, foam, or varnish.  These products contain a much higher level of fluoride than toothpastes and mouth rinses.

When should fluoride use begin?

Infants and children between the ages of 6 months and 16 years shouldInfant smiling receive fluoride.  Their primary teeth and permanent teeth develop during these ages, so the stronger their enamel is, the better.  Because most children receive their first permanent teeth at around age 6, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends prescribing fluoride supplements for children between the ages of 6 and 16 who are at high risk for dental caries and whose community water source is less than optimal.  In areas that have minimal fluoride in the water, fluoride supplementation may begin earlier.

Although fluoride is an immediate concern for children and adolescents, adults also can benefit from fluoride.  Topical fluoride – including toothpastes, mouth rinses, and fluoride treatments – is as important for fighting tooth decay in adults as it is for strengthening the teeth of children.

When is additional fluoride necessary?

Additional fluoride treatment can benefit children and adults with certain oral conditions, including dry mouth, gum disease, and cavities.  Dry mouth makes an individual more prone to tooth decay because the decreased saliva production makes it harder to wash away food particles and thus decrease the cavity-causing acids.  Gum disease can expose more of the tooth and tooth roots to bacteria, increasing the chance of tooth decay.  Patients who have many cavities and develop new ones each year may benefit from additional fluoride treatment.

Additional fluoride might also be appropriate for patients with crowns, bridges, and braces, as the portion of the tooth that isn’t covered by a crown, bridge, or brace may be at greater risk for tooth decay.  To find out if you and/or your children are receiving enough fluoride or should consider fluoride treatment or supplements, ask Dr. Marinic.  He may prescribe fluoride supplements (in liquid or pill form) or offer suggestions for increasing the amount of fluoride you receive.

GERD – What is it good for? Absolutely Nothing

Man with heart burnMore than 10 percent of Americans experience the burning and discomfort of heartburn every day.  What many don’t know is that heartburn, or acid indigestion, is a common symptom of chronic acid reflux, also known as gastroesopheageal reflux disease (GERD).

What is acid reflux and GERD?

Acid reflux occurs when muscles of the lower esophagus relax and allow Digestive systemstomach acids to flow upwards into the esophagus and even the mouth.  These stomach acids can cause irritation and inflammation of the esophagus while negatively impacting your oral health.  Acid reflux may progress further, developing into GERD.  In patients who have GERD, the esophageal muscles are unable to keep stomach acids from flowing upwards, causing corrosion of the esophageal lining and the uncomfortable burning sensation associated with heartburn.

Signs and symptoms

Though often times difficult to detect, GERD can be associated with the following signs and symptoms:Woman coughing

  • Heartburn
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Regurgitation
  • Burning sensation in mouth
  • Sore throat
  • Nausea, vomiting, belching
  • Chronic coughing
  • Erosion of tooth enamel
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Chipping, discoloration of teeth
  • Bad breath

How does GERD affect your oral health?

Tooth erosionIn addition to damaging the esophagus and increasing your risk of esophageal cancer, over time GERD can erode tooth enamel.  Research indicates tooth enamel begins to erode at a pH, or acid level, of 5.5.  With a pH of less than 2.0, your stomach acid can easily damage tooth enamel and cause increased tooth sensitivity, decay, discoloration, and chipping.

Treatments and lifestyle modifications

GERD can be diagnosed by your physician using a variety of tests, including pH monitoring, X-rays, or endoscopy.  Though GERD is a chronic condition, its symptoms can be treated using medications and lifestyle modifications.  In addition to taking over-the-counter antacids and prescription H2 receptor blockers, you can reduce GERD symptoms by:

  • Avoiding trigger foods and beverages, including chocolate, spicy/greasyGreasy food foods, tomato-based foods, alcohol, and coffee
  • Quitting smoking
  • Refraining from eating several hours before bed, or lying down two to three hours after eating
  • Losing weight if you are overweight or obese
  • Avoiding tight clothing

Protect your teeth against acid reflux

Practicing good oral hygiene is the best way to prevent acid reflux or GERD from damaging your teeth and causing decay.  In addition to brushing twice a day, you can take the following steps to ensure GERD doesn’t impact your oral health:

  • Visit our dental office at least twice a year for tooth enamel evaluation
  • Use dentin-sensitive toothpaste
  • Rinse your mouth with water following acid reflux episodes
  • Do not brush your teeth for 60 minutes after consuming acidic foods or drinks
  • Dissolve baking soda in water and swish around the mouth after acid reflux occurs
  • Receive fluoride treatments to strengthen your teeth
  • Wear a dentist-prescribed mouth guard at night to prevent acid from damaging your teeth
  • Avoid over-the-counter antacids, especially at night, that have high sugar content

If you believe you may be at risk for acid reflux or GERD, speak with Dr. Marinic or your primary physician.  Though GERD can be incredibly damaging to your oral health, lifestyle modifications and treatment can help ensure your teeth remain safe and healthy.

This article has been modified from The Academy of General Dentistry.

 

Hormones and Women’s Oral Health

What do hormones have to do with a woman’s oral health?5 generations of women

Hormonal changes occur throughout a woman’s life, and with these hormonal changes come changes in oral health.  Puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause all can have an effect on a woman’s oral health.  The use of oral contraceptives (birth control pills) can affect a woman’s oral health as well.

When might I notice changes in my oral health?

During puberty, fluctuations in hormones can make gums morTeenage girle susceptible to gingivitis. As a result, the gums may appear red and swollen, and they can bleed.  During menstruation, women who have a tendency to develop canker sores and cold sores may develop a pattern in which these sores recur during every menstrual cycle.

Woman holding newbornDuring pregnancy, gingivitis may develop.  In fact, gingivitis is the most common oral condition associated with being pregnant. Sometimes, however, women will avoid dental checkups for fear that treatment might harm the developing baby.  In truth, untreated gum infections and decayed teeth can put a mother and her baby at risk. Dental infections may be responsible for as much as 5 percent of low-birth-weight pre-term babies.  Pregnant women need routine checkups.  Always tell Dr. Marinic and his team if you are pregnant.

Some women also experience dry mouth while pregnant.  Taking frequentPregnant woman brushing teeth sips of water and chewing sugarless gum or candy can help alleviate this symptom.  Women who experience morning sickness need to brush their teeth more frequently than twice a day.  This will help to prevent stomach acids from contacting the teeth and causing permanent damage to tooth enamel. 

The use of oral contraceptives may cause gum tissue changes in some women.  Women who use birth control pills may also be more prone to healing problems or dry socket after tooth extraction. 

Older woman smilingDuring menopause, women may experience oral changes that include pain, a burning sensation in the oral tissue, changes in taste, and dry mouth.  After menopause, there is an increased risk of developing osteoporosis, which may increase the chance of tooth loss.

How can I maintain good oral health throughout my life?

  • Brush twice daily with toothpaste containing fluoride and floss once daily
  • Have your teeth professionally cleaned and examined by your dentist every six months (or more frequently if recommended by your dentist)
  • Eat a well-balanced diet, and always tell Dr. Marinic and his team about any medications, vitamins, and supplements that you are taking

Ask Dr. Marinic any questions that you have about your oral health.  Together, you and Dr. Marinic can create a treatment and prevention plan that specifically meets your needs.

Dry Mouth Solutions

Woman biting into hamburgerSaliva production is important, not only for the digestion of the food we eat, but also to cleanse and moisten our mouths.  Saliva is also important to help prevent infection by controlling bacteria and fungi in the mouth.  We don’t think much about what would happen if we did not have enough saliva production, but it affects thousands of people every day.  The majority of us produce enough saliva to prevent any problems, but what happens if we are unable to produce enough saliva?

When we are unable to produce enough, our mouth gets dry (xerostomia) and uncomfortable.  Is it a condition we are destined to live with, or are their effective treatments for a dry mouth?

Let’s look at some of the causes of dry mouth:

  • Certain medicationsPill bottles
  • Certain diseases
  • Certain medical treatments
  • Nerve damage
  • Dehydration
  • Surgical removal of salivary glands
  • Smoking

Woman holding throatCommon symptoms of dry mouth may include:

  • A sticky, dry feeling in the mouth
  • Frequent thirst
  • Sores in the mouth; sores or split skin at the corners of the mouth; cracked lips
  • A dry feeling in the throat
  • A burning or tingling sensation in the mouth and especially on the tongue
  • A dry, red, raw tongue
  • Problems speaking or difficulty tasting, chewing, and swallowing
  • Hoarseness, dry nasal passages, sore throat
  • Bad breath

Woman talking to doctorIf you think your dry mouth is caused by certain medication you are taking, talk to your primary physician.  They may adjust the dose you are taking or switch you to a different drug that doesn’t cause dry mouth.  In addition, an oral rinse to restore mouth moisture may be prescribed.  If that doesn’t help a medication that stimulates saliva production may be prescribed.

Other steps you can take that may help improve saliva flow include:Ice water

  • Sucking on sugar-free candy or chewing sugar-free gum
  • Drinking plenty of water to help keep your mouth moist
  • Protecting your teeth by brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, using a fluoride rinse, and visiting your dentist regularly
  • Breathing through your nose, not your mouth, as much as possible
  • Using a room vaporizer to add moisture to the bedroom air
  • Using an over-the-counter artificial saliva substitute

If dry mouth is a problem, there are solutions.  Talk to our team of service professionals at your next visit and we will be happy to help you.