By: Dr. Jacques Doueck
When an adult comes in with cavities, I like to spend a few minutes trying to brainstorm why he is getting cavities.
“I’m out of the cavity prone years!” patients sometimes complain. And they are usually right.
There are many reasons why adults get cavities. Among the most common reasons for adult cavities are failure to clean between the teeth (with floss, WaterPik™or toothpicks), eating after brushing before bedtime, snacking throughout the day on pretzels or crackers, and sipping soda or “healthy” juice drinks. All these can cause the tooth enamel to erode and destroy
However, when adults come in with sensitive teeth, deep cavities, or many areas of decay along the gumline of their teeth, I often find that dry mouth is a big part of the problem.
Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is a common problem that affects about
25 percent of all adults, and 40 percent of the population over 55. Common causes ofdry mouth are diabetes, Sjögren’s Syndrome, certain medications, and other medical conditions.
For some adults and children, mouth breathing(breathing through the mouth rather than the nose) will cause dry mouth and red, inflamed gums.
So What Can You Do
About Dry Mouth?
There are several ways to stimulate the salivary glands and increase the flow of saliva. Patients can suck on sugar-free
candies, take frequent small sips of water, or use sprays or gels that provide lubrication. Biotene™makes a full line of toothpaste, mouth rinse, gels and sprays specifically for dry mouth.
A critical part of dealing with dry mouth is to clean between the teeth (with floss, WaterPik™ or toothpicks) and brush for two minutes twice a day. MI Paste™is a Calcium paste that helps repair early damage such as tooth decay and eroded sensitive root areas. The best way to apply MI Paste is to wear a custom tray that fits your teeth, for 10 minutes a day. It will hold the paste for maximum effectiveness.
Since dry mouth will cause rapid and more severe cavities, it is very important to get in for regular X-rays and checkups to catch cavities when they are smaller and less damaging.
Dry Mouth Symptoms
A sticky, dry, or sore mouth
Cracking at the corners
of the mouth
Difficulty eating dry
or spicy foods
Rapid wear of the enamel
Thirst at night