Sufficient saliva is important for everyone, but especially critical for denture wearers. Saliva helps to create a seal between the base of the denture and the ridge of the gums. Saliva also works to lubricate the denture and the gums to protect against irritation of the gums and prevent sores.
In addition, dry mouth can cause dentures to fit loosely, which can lead to irritation, sores, and even infection.
There are many causes of dry mouth. Some of the most common include:
- Medications – More than 500 frequently prescribed, as well as over the counter, medications have dry mouth as a potential side effects. Medications to be wary of include blood pressure medicine, antidepressants, and decongestants.
- Illness – Some systemic conditions can inhibit the production of saliva. These conditions include chronic diarrhea, tumors of the salivary glands, liver dysfunction, and Sjogren’s Syndrome.
- Habits – Habits that cause dehydration, especially insufficient fluid intake and excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption, can all contribute to dry mouth, as can frequent mouth breathing.
- Radiation – Radiation treatment for certain cancers can lead to reduced saliva production as a side effect.
- Aging – As you get older, the salivary glands tend to produce less saliva.
Dealing with Dry Mouth
If your dry mouth is the result of prescription medication, you should talk to your doctor about alternative medications that may work without causing the dry mouth. Never stop using anything prescribed by your doctor without consulting the prescribing doctor. If an over the counter medication might be to blame, try another brand, or talk to your doctor to see what he recommends.
There are things you can do to stimulate your salivary glands. Sucking on sugar free hard candy is a simple and inexpensive way to boost the amount of saliva you have. Often, simply increasing your water consumption and reducing consumption of alcohol and caffeine can help you to be better hydrate overall, which can help your mouth tissue to be better hydrated as well. If you have a specific conditions, such as congestive heart failure or kidney disease, increasing your fluids may not be advisable, so if you have any of these conditions, talk to your doctor.
There are also mouthwashes and salivary substitutes that can be purchased from your pharmacy that can help to keep your mouth moist and improve lubrication. If all else fails, there are medications that your doctor or dentist can prescribe that can help increase your saliva production.
If you have dentures that are uncomfortable to wear because of dry mouth, consider implants. New miniature implants can help cushion your dentures and keep them securely in place.