According to recent research, approximately 80% of people over 65 have one chronic condition and 50% have at least two chronic conditions. The most common chronic conditions are hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and cancer. Now, you are probably wondering why dentists are concerned about diseases that are not related to your teeth. Well, there is a connection.
I wanted to go in another direction quickly and talk about something that is often overlooked and underappreciated, saliva. That’s right; we are going to talk about the stuff that makes your drool and slobber! There is a reason behind the saying, “My mouth is watering.” It’s because your saliva is composed of 98% water; however, it’s the 2% that makes saliva so important. The 2% contains electrolytes, antibacterial agents, and digestive enzymes. The electrolytes consist of calcium, phosphate, and bicarbonate that create a buffer and protect your teeth from forming cavities. The antibacterial agents in saliva like lactoferrin and immunoglobulin A help kill bacteria and viruses and help protect us from getting sick. The enzymes like amylase helps break starches and aid in food digestion. Saliva also acts as a natural lubricant, so you aren’t constantly biting your cheeks, tongue or lips. Saliva also creates the suction so dentures don’t fall out.
Now this brings us back to the questions that I posed above. Why are dentists concerned about diseases that affect other part of your body besides your mouth? These conditions and especially the medications used to treat these conditions can lead to decreased saliva flow and ultimately lead to xerostomia (dry mouth). There are over 400 medications and the list grows each day that cause a decrease in your saliva. The most common types of medications are antihistamines, antidepressants and blood pressure medications; however, there are many more that can affect your saliva production. Additionally, cancer treatments like chemo and radiation can damage your salivary glands and can have drastic effects on saliva production.
If you have noticed your mouth feeling dry or are taking some of the medications listed above, please let us know at your next appointment, and we can give you some suggestions and products that relieve your symptoms. It is extremely important that we treat this condition early. If not treated, it can cause rampant decay and extensive tooth loss.
The holiday season and the end of the year are fast approaching. This also means that your dental benefits will be expiring as well. So, if you have been postponing some dental work or just have not been in for awhile, now is a great time to schedule an appointment and use those insurance benefits before you lose them.
We hope that our office exceeds your expectations. If we do, please let your family and friends know about our practice. Additionally, we would appreciate your reviews on Google Local. It helps let others in the area know about our dental practice. Please copy and paste the following link, goo.gl/6iBx4 into your address bar and give us a great review.
As always, please let us know if you have any questions. You can call us at 714-842-7431 or reach us through our website, www.FordDentalGroup.com, under the Contact us link.