A common problem experienced by seniors is constant dry mouth. For a long time, there has been a myth that it’s a normal part of aging and that seniors shouldn’t pay much attention to it. That standard response to dry mouth is very common, but unfortunately it’s not correct. While dry mouth doesn’t necessarily cause any harm on its own, it can indirectly have a severe impact on the teeth of any senior – regardless of the current state of their teeth.
The human body produces very large amounts of saliva each day. That saliva plays an important role in your oral health, as it helps keep not just the roof of your mouth wet, but your teeth as well. It may not seem that important, but with a dry mouth, your teeth are extremely susceptible to chips, fractures and other severe damage. After just days of having a dry mouth, perfectly healthy teeth can deteriorate and cause the need for immediate oral surgery and extremely large medical costs.
While dry mouth can damage teeth regardless of your age or demographics, the problem is exacerbated even more when it comes to seniors, as teeth have weakened over time. Your teeth are nowhere near as strong when you’re 65 as when you’re 35, and having a dry mouth will cause damage faster the quicker you are. The reasons for dry mouth among seniors vary. As you get older, your body naturally starts to produce less saliva – though it still produces enough. In addition to that, many of the medications taken by seniors cause dry mouth as a side effect. Both combined create a harsh, dry mouth with an detrimental environment for teeth.
The key here is to differentiate between common and normal. Dry mouth is a common problem for seniors, but it’s not normal whatsoever. If you experience dry mouth for a period longer than 24 hours, you should immediately make an appointment with your dentist. Try to constantly drink water to stay hydrated and keep a flow of liquid in your mouth as much as possible, limiting the detrimental effects of dry mouth. In addition, it would be a good idea to see your general doctor and determine if any of your current medication can cause dry-mouth, and if so, check for alternatives that may not have the same side-effects.