Monday, December 10, 2012

Dry Mouth and Associated Complications

Saliva is critical for maintenance of good oral health.  Key actions of saliva include: 
·         Buffering to prevent an acidic oral environment which can lead to demineralization
·         Supplying calcium and phosphate, which are key factors for dental remineralization
·         Producing protein secretion that enhances the local defenses against infection

 Dry mouth can develop due to a poorly functioning salivary gland or due to pathological malfunction of the glands.  In the general population there are about 10% of individuals with dry mouth.  In individuals over 65 years of age, about 20-25% complain of dry mouth.  In nursing homes up to 50% of individuals can have dry mouth.

Saliva is important for communication and nutrition and a low production of saliva can significantly alter quality of  life.  There are various causes that may lead to dry mouth along with complications to oral and general health.  Common conditions include diabetes and hormonal changes, depression and anxiety, radiation therapy of the head and neck that includes salivary glands in the radiation fields, and some autoimmune diseases. 

Patients with chronic dry mouth are at risk for oral cavity infections and dental caries.  Depending on the extent of the lack of sufficient saliva and the oral environment, a severe form of rapidly developing decay can lead to loss of dentition. 

If you have issues with dry mouth, give us a call or you can discuss any questions and concerns with us at your next appointment. 


1 comment:

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