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Understanding Dry Mouth

dry-mouth4The medical term for dry mouth is xerostomia (“xero” – dry; “stomia” – mouth), something that many of us have experienced at some point in life. However, for some people it can be a chronic condition that is ideal for promoting tooth decay. It can also be a warning sign of a more serious health condition.

Dry mouth occurs when there is an insufficient flow of saliva, the fluid secreted by the salivary glands. Your major salivary glands are located in two places: inside the checks by the back top molars and in the floor of the mouth, with about six hundred tiny glands scattered throughout your mouth. And many people are surprised to learn that when they are functioning normally, saliva glands secret between two and four pints of saliva per day! While this may sound like a lot (and it is), saliva is key for buffering or neutralizing acids in the mouth. Without this powerful protection, tooth decay can increase quickly. This is especially true for older individuals who have exposed tooth root surfaces.

It is also important to note that there are times when mouth dryness is perfectly normal. For example, when you wake, you will probably have a slightly dry mouth because saliva flow slows at night. Another example is if you are dehydrated when it is simply a warning sign that you need to drink more fluids (especially water). Other causes for temporary dry mouth include stress as well as what you consume: coffee, alcohol, onions, and certain spices.

You can also have a dry mouth due to a side effect from an over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medication. If it turns out that this is the cause in your case, you need to talk to the prescribing physician to see if there is something else you can take to avoid this side effect. If there are no substitutes, one tip you can try is to take several sips of water before taking the medication followed by a full glass of water, or chew gum containing xylitol, which moistens your mouth and decreases the risk of tooth decay.

Another cause of dry mouth is radiation treatment for cancer in the head and neck region. Yes, these treatments are crucial for fighting cancer; however, they can inflame, damage or destroy salivary glands. You can also have dry mouth from certain systemic (general body) or autoimmune (“auto” – self; “immune” – resistance system) diseases, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, cystic fibrosis and AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).

To learn more, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dry Mouth.” Or, you can contact us today to ask your questions, discuss your circumstances or schedule an appointment.


Avoid These Foods to Keep Braces Safe

Protect your braces against damage by staying away from these harmful foods.

braces(2)You just finally got your braces; however, the last thing you want to do is damage or break them. While there may seem like a lot of rules for how to care for your braces, it’s important to know the dos and don’ts of wearing orthodontics so you can protect your braces from harm. One of the most important things you can do is to eat an orthodontic-friendly diet that won’t damage your braces. Your Katy orthodontist recommends avoiding these foods to keep your braces safe.

Hard foods

It might seem rather obvious, but any kind of hard food could break or pull off a wire or bracket. Therefore, it’s best to stay away from hard breads like bagels and baguettes, nuts, pizza crusts, chips, hard taco shells and even raw veggies like carrots.

Sticky foods

There are a lot of candies that will need to be removed from your diet to protect the health of your braces. This means no gum, licorice, gummy bears, jelly beans, caramels or anything that could actually get stuck in your brackets or pull them off. Plus, these sticky, sugary treats can also just as easily get stuck to your teeth, making it hard to effectively brush away. This means that you may also deal with cavities on top of damaged braces.

Tough meats

Any kind of jerky or tough foods is also off limits, as the tearing motion needed to eat these types of foods can easily break wires and brackets.

Ice

Chewing ice is probably responsible for a large portion of damage to braces. Just avoid this altogether, no matter how refreshing it might seem at the time. To prevent yourself from accidentally chewing ice, either keep it out of beverages or limit how much ice you put in your glass.

While removing some of these foods can be hard, it will be worth it once you are able to finally remove your braces to reveal a straighter smile. In the meantime, you can enjoy these foods while wearing your braces:

  • Dairy
  • Soft breads (sure, hard taco shells and bagels aren’t good for your braces, but there is nothing wrong with soft taco shells or muffins!)
  • Grains
  • Soft, cooked meats
  • Seafood
  • Cooked vegetables
  • Soft fruits (e.g. bananas or applesauce)

Besides sticking to a diet that’s safe on your braces, you need to see your Katy dentist every couple of weeks to make sure your braces are performing as they should and that your smile looks healthy. If it’s time to schedule your upcoming orthodontic appointment contact Dr. Michael DeLaura at DeLaura Dental.