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The link between medications and cavities

As you get older, you may find yourself getting cavities, which may be something you haven’t had in years. As we age, we enter a *second round* of cavity prone years. One of the most common causes of cavities in older people is dry mouth. Dry mouth is not usually a normal side of aging, but commonly a side effect caused by more than 500 different types of medications, including those used to treat cholesterol, anxiety, blood pressure, asthma, pain, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or depression.

This is one reason why you should tell your local dentist in Parramatta about any medications you are taking. Your dentist can suggest ways to relieve your dry mouth symptoms and prevent cavities. Some recommendations may include:

  • Over the counter oral moisturisers such as mouthwash or sprays
  • Drink more water – don’t wait till you are thirsty your mouth needs constant lubrication
  • Talk to your Dr about changing medications
  • Use sugar-free gum to stimulate salvia production
  • Avoid foods and beverages that irritate dry mouth like coffee, acidic fruit juices, alcohol, and carbonated soft drinks
  • Get a humidifier to help keep moisture in the air
  • Your dentist in Parramatta may apply a fluoride gel or varnish to protect your teeth from cavities

Gum Disease: Many older adults have gum or periodontal disease which is caused by bacteria in plaque which irritates the gum causing it to become swollen and bleed. Gum disease is painless until it reaches an advanced stage, if it is left untreated the gums can start pulling away from the teeth and form pockets where food particles and more plaque collects. Advanced gum disease can destroy the gums, bones and ligaments supporting the teeth leading to tooth loss. The good news is that visiting your dentist in Parramatta regularly means that gum disease can be treated – or prevented entirely.

Mouth Cancer: In Australia 4,000 new cases of mouth cancer are diagnosed each year, with the average age around 62. During regular dental visits your dentist will check for any signs of oral cancer. Regular dental visits are important because in the early stages oral cancer generally does not cause any pain, and early detection will save lives. Some symptoms you may see include open sores, white or reddish patches and changes to the lips, tongue and lining of the mouth that lasts for more than two weeks.