Having enough saliva is important for everybody, but especially vital to denture wearers. Saliva helps to seal the base of the denture against the ridge of the gums. Saliva also helps to lubricate the denture and protect the gums from irritation that can cause sores.
Dry mouth can lead to poorly fitting dentures which can cause irritation, and sores that can become infected.
Dry mouth has many causes. Some common causes include:
- Medications – there are hundreds of frequently prescribed and over-the-counter medications that can cause dry mouth. Some of the most common medications that cause dry mouth include those for blood pressure, depression, and congestion.
- Illness – certain systemic illnesses can impair the functioning of the salivary glands. These conditions include dehydration, tumors of the glands, dysfunction of the liver, and Sjogren’s syndrome.
- Habits – frequent mouth breathing as well as habits that cause dehydration, particularly in sufficient fluid intake and excessive alcohol or caffeine consumption, can lead to dry mouth.
- Radiation – certain types of radiation treatments can cause reduced saliva production.
- Aging – the older you get, the less saliva you produce.
Dealing with dry mouth
The best way to deal with dry mouth depends a great deal on the cause. If your dry mouth is caused by prescription medication, talk with your doctor about other medications that may be less likely to cause dry mouth. Never discontinue any prescription medication without talking to your doctor first. If you think an over the counter medication may be causing your dry mouth, try another brand or talk to your doctor.
There are several things you can do to stimulate your salivary glands, including:
Sucking on sugar-free hard candy – This is an easy way to increase your saliva.
Drink more water – Sometimes just making sure you are well hydrated can increase the amount of saliva in your mouth. If you have any of certain conditions, such as congestive heart failure or kidney disease, that make increased fluid consumption and advisable, talk to your doctor.
Reduce your consumption of alcohol and caffeine – Alcohol and caffeine are both known to aggravate dehydration. Reducing how much alcohol and caffeine you drink can help.
Pharmaceutical mouthwashes – there are mouthwashes and other products that can be purchased at the pharmacy that can help to keep your mouth moist, improve lubrication, and help to stimulate your salivary glands.
Medication – when all else fails talk to your doctor about prescribing a medication that can help to increase your saliva production.
If you have dentures and find that dry mouth makes them uncomfortable, talk to your dentist about implants. New implants are smaller and cushion your dentures and hold them in place.