Who knew that taking a trip to Rite Aid to get medicine for your uncontrollable cough could result in tooth decay? Yep, it's true. Some medicines that cure what ails us can be enemies of the state to our teeth. That's because taking certain medicines cause chronic dry mouth. When we lose saliva, we lose the protection it affords our mouths from bacterial infection, tooth decay and gum disease.
"Saliva is our friend," says Dr. Sarant. "It contains minerals that guard our enamel surface and provides high levels of calcium and phosphate ions at the tooth surface."
The more medicines a person takes, the more he increases his risk of getting chronic dry mouth. Cough medicines and antihistamines found over the counter at drug and grocery stores are common culprits. Other mediations that cause dry mouth are antidepressants like Prozac and antihistamines like Benadryl.
So what do you do? First and foremost, don't just stop taking the medications -- particularly if your doctor prescribes them. Let your doctor know if the problem persists. You can suck on foods like sugar-free candies and sugar-free popsicles to help stimulate the flow of saliva. Also, chewing sugarless gum is helpful.
In addition, make sure you are adopting good oral hygiene habits including brushing twice a day and after every meal if possible. Flossing daily and using fluoride toothpaste are also key. Of course visiting your dentist regularly and letting her know about your dry mouth issues will keep you ahead of the game.