Adequate amounts of saliva are very important and essential to denture wearers. Saliva helps create suction between the acrylic of the denture base and the ridge of gum tissue on which the denture sits. Saliva also acts as a lubricant to prevent irritation and abrasion to the gum tissue that comes in contact with the denture.
Conversely, dry mouth [Xerostomia] may lead to loose dentures, irritations, sores and possible infection for denture wearers.
Common Causes of Dry Mouth:
There are over 500 commonly taken medications that can cause dry mouth as a side effect. Some of these include blood pressure medicine, decongestants and anti-depressants.
There are systemic conditions such as Sjogrens’s Syndrome, chronic diarrhea, salivary gland tumors and liver dysfunction that can reduce the amount of saliva production.
Breathing through one’s mouth regularly or inadequate consumption of fluids, causing dehydration may also contribute to dry mouth.
A side effect of some radiation therapy that is use to treat certain cancers is reduced salivary gland function.
As a person ages, it’s common for their salivary glands to produce less saliva, and, thus, a dry mouth results.
Managing a Dry Mouth
If a particular type of medication is a contributory factor to a patient’s dry mouth, they should consult their physician to see if there is an acceptable alternative drug that doesn’t produce dry mouth side effects. No medication should be arbitrarily stopped without first checking with the doctor whom prescribed the medication.
There are substances [Sialagogues] that stimulate the production of saliva such as sugar-free hard candies and/or pharmaceutical sialagogues that may be prescribed by a physician or dentist. There are also commercial salivary substitutes that can keep the mouth moist and more lubricated. Often, just regularly rinsing with water and consuming increased amounts of water will hydrate the oral tissues, and in some instances, facilitate increased saliva production. However, there are specific medical conditions such as congestive heart failure where increased consumption of fluids is not healthy, so your physician should be consulted first.
For those individuals that are unable to wear dentures comfortably because of severe dry mouth conditions, another alternative would be the installation of ultra small implants to retain and cushion your dentures.