Tooth Talk: Do You Have Xerostomia?

Do you have xerostomia?

Your answer is most likely: “I hope not!”

Fear not! Xerostomia is actually the medical name for “Dry Mouth.”

Dry mouth is not something to be ignored or taken lightly.

Dry mouth is caused by the lack of saliva for a long period of time. Multiple causes for dry mouth exist, including medications, diseases, and certain medical treatments.

Dry mouth is uncomfortable, but more importantly, it increases your risk of dental decay, which can destroy your teeth very rapidly. It also makes it difficult for dentures to fit properly. If you feel that your mouth is dry most of the time, you should tell your dentist. Your dentist should recommend a variety of ways to treat your symptoms and protect your mouth and teeth. Oral rinses, fluoride applications, dietary counseling, and oral hygiene methods are a few of the common recommendations.

Dry mouth also has other health consequences. Chewing and swallowing become increasingly difficult which impacts your ability to eat and enjoy certain foods. This can lead to serious digestive and nutritional problems. Dry mouth often makes it difficult to speak, causes a sore mouth, throat, and tongue, bad breath and hoarseness. Tell you physician about your symptoms and request assistance in managing your symptoms and eliminating the cause, if possible.

There are over 400 medications that result in dry mouth. The medications range from over-the-counter to antihistamines, antidepressants, muscle relaxants, high blood pressure medicines, and pain medications. Other causes include: cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy of the head and neck, hormone changes, systemic diseases like diabetes and many others. Snoring and open-mouth breathing increase dry mouth symptoms. Anxiety and stress may also trigger dry mouth.

Relieve dry mouth symptoms by drinking plenty of water, sucking on ice chips or drinking sugar-free and caffeine-free drinks. Avoid irritants such as, alcohol and tobacco, salty and spicy foods. Use a humidifier in your room at night. Consider using a saliva substitute, either over-the-counter or by prescription. There are a variety of forms of saliva substitutes; rinses, sprays, swabs, gels, and tablets that dissolve in the mouth.

Do You Have Missing Teeth?

It is important to replace missing teeth for proper chewing of food, jaw support, stability of the remaining teeth, and an attractive smile. Missing teeth disrupts proper function and the teeth next to and above the missing tooth/teeth will shift, move, and tip into the space in time. It is much easier to restore a missing tooth soon after it is lost than waiting a number of years after teeth have shifted significantly. A dentist or prosthodontist can determine the best method to replace your missing tooth or teeth.

Missing teeth are replace through removable partial dentures, fixed dental prostheses (“bridges”), or dental implants. A discussion with your dentist would help in determining which option is right for you.

Missing Teeth Lead to Other Health Problems:

  • Infection- gum disease
  • Bone damage- loss of bone in jaw
  • Collapse of bite- teeth no longer fit together to chew
  • Remaining teeth shift, tilt, and extrude
  • Grinding and clenching- causes excessive wear and pain
  • Broken teeth- remaining teeth are over stressed
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain- TMJ (temporomandibular joint)
  • Collapse or lower face
  • Collapse of lips
  • Premature aging
  • Loss of ability to chew nutritious foods
  • Digestive problems
  • Illness
  • Lower life expectancy by 10 year

How Are Dental Implants Made?

The loss of one or more teeth is no small matter. In addition to the cosmetic effects of a missing tooth, there are serious health concerns that accompany the loss of a natural tooth. The most serious concern is bone loss, which becomes pronounced over time and can lead to the loss of more teeth and gum disease.

To avoid these negative outcomes, many dental professionals recommend dental implants as a replacement for natural teeth.

How Do Dental Implants Work?

Dental implants have either two or three parts. The implant itself is a small post that is made of titanium. This post is either cylindrical in form or slightly tapered depending on the type of implant chosen by your dentist.

The implant is surgically inserted into the jawbone. At this point, the patient is sent home to heal, during which time the implant will fuse to the bone. Once that process is complete, the post will provide a strong foundation for the replacement tooth or teeth.

The patient returns to the office for the next step. An abutment is then attached to the implant. This is the “connector” that will allow the replacement tooth to be secured to the post.

The replacement tooth, called the crown, is custom made to match the patient’s own teeth. At Worthington Dental Group, we have our own on-site dental lab where we produce our patients’ crowns. This allows us to control the design and fabrication of the crown to perfectly match your teeth.

How Long Does the Entire Process Take?

The short answer: it depends. The initial appointment and evaluation take very little time, and the Worthington Dental Group team can schedule the remaining appointments to suit your schedule.

Each individual is unique, and it can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months for the implant to properly fuse with the patient’s bone. From that point forward, attaching the crown is a fairly straightforward procedure.

What About Cost?

Dental implant treatment costs is similar to traditional bridgework, which was once the only option for individuals who had only a few missing teeth. However, bridgework can fail over time and can also cause damage to surrounding teeth. In the end, addressing those issues can be far more expensive than dental implants.

At Worthington Dental Group, we strive to take care of all of your dental needs in one location. We have excellent prosthodontists who complete the restorative portion of the implant procedure.

We also have other dental specialists to take care of all of your dental needs and rarely refer patients to another dental office for treatment. We welcome new patients and look forward to meeting you and your family.


Breaking Down Your Family’s Dental Health Needs

People of all ages require dental care. From babies to children, teens, adults and senior citizens, everyone needs the attention and care of a skilled dentist. Yet each age requires unique dental treatment. Let’s take a look at some of the common oral health challenges and treatments for each stage of life.

Dental Care for Infants

Dental care for infants actually begins long before the first tooth makes its debut. After all, just because you can’t see a tooth yet doesn’t mean that it isn’t there!

A baby’s teeth actually form within the second trimester of the mother’s pregnancy. By the time of delivery, the infant has 20 primary teeth developing below their gums.

Once the first tooth appears, usually around the age of 6 months, consider taking your baby to the dentist with you when you have your periodic exam and cleaning appointment.
This is the perfect time to discuss oral health care for your baby, establish good dietary practices during infancy and childhood, and begin the routine dental exams for life.

Children, Teens, and Adults

Children, teens and adults require regular dental examinations. It is prudent to schedule appointments at the intervals recommended by your dentist (usually every 3, 4, 6 months). These regular visits to the dentist will serve as a preventive measure.

A dental hygienist will identify oral health problems, perform a thorough cleaning, and discuss treatment options to remedy the problems. These periodic appointments will prove critical in your quest to prevent gum disease and to have strong, healthy teeth for life.

Children and teens often sustain mouth injuries while playing or participating in sports. Many injuries to the mouth and teeth require immediate dental attention. For example, it is often possible to reinsert a tooth that is completely knocked out. That is why it is so important to seek the help of a dentist as soon as possible. The Worthington Dental Group is prepared to receive emergency calls at any time.

Senior Citizens

Seniors’ oral health issues are unique and require special attention. Gum disease is more common in older adults. Often teeth become worn, brittle, and susceptible to breaking as we age. Many medications and medical conditions result in a dry mouth. This can be very problematic for the teeth and gums of the senior patient.

It is very important for older adults to receive the proper dental care that they need. Keeping our natural teeth for our whole life is an attainable goal which results in better nutrition and overall health. After all, eating the foods that we like is one of the greatest pleasures in life!

Worthington Dental Group is Here for Patients of all Ages

If you are looking for a dental office for everyone in your family, Worthington Dental Group is the place to go.

Our dental team is highly trained and experienced in treating every family member. We have general dentists and specialists in Periodontics (gums) and Prosthodontics (single tooth and multiple teeth restoration).

We invite everyone in the Central Ohio area to take a tour of our office and meet our terrific team. You will not be disappointed! Contact us by calling 614-885-2022 or schedule an appointment online.

When Is it Time for a Teeth Cleaning?

The majority of Americans underestimate the importance of preventative dental care. When it comes to oral health, continuity is key for people young and old alike. While there are certain physical symptoms that let you know that it’s time for a cleaning, only your general dentist can determine what’s right for you and your unique smile.