Montrose Star talks with The Trusted Dental Authority, Dr. Randy Mitchmore at his practice called LifeSmiles in the heart of Montrose.
MS: Why would a dentist be talking about Lube?
DrM: It turns out that the most important Lubricant you need an abundance of on a daily basis is found in your Saliva.
MS: OK, I’ll bite (pun intended). What’s the Big Deal?
DrM: My patients that have the worst problems with Gum Disease, Rampant Cavities, and Bad Breath have one thing in common: A lack of good saliva flow.
MS: What role does saliva play in that?
DrM: Saliva is made up of many enzymes, antibodies, and buffering agents. The enzymes and antibodies fight the harmful plaque, biofilms, bacteria, yeast, and fungus that find a happy home on our teeth, tongue, and under the gum line. The buffering agents neutralize the acid pH of these nasty things. The flow of saliva washes all of this away throughout the day. People with an inadequate amount of saliva have a dry mouth condition called xerostomia. It is very damaging. Plus it is uncomfortable because the lips, tongue, and cheeks all stick together.
MS: What causes dry mouth?
DrM: In an article that I wrote for MSN (see foot note), I uncovered that many prescription drugs are to blame. High on the list are most all antidepressants, and many high blood pressure medications, all antihistamines, appetite suppressants, and narcotics. The pharmacologic mechanism that makes them work on their intended job has an equal side effect of turning off the saliva glands. Other self-inflicted causes of dry mouth include smoking, excessive drinking, high amounts of caffeine, and high alcohol content mouthwashes. Lastly some may have had a cancer in the head and neck area that was treated with radiation. The radiation kills the sensitive saliva glands.
MS: What’s a person to do if they don’t have nature’s Lubricant?
DrM: Get Some! If it is prescription induced, talk with your physician to see if it is time to reduce the dosage or find something different. Saliva flow will then come back. If it is self inflicted – Stop It! If it is caused by something out of your control, fight it! Swish your mouth with plain water and swallow it frequently. It is even more important that your oral hygiene be meticulous. Have your teeth cleaned frequently with fluoride treatments. Have your dentist check the pH of your saliva and prescribe remineralizing agents like MI paste. Use over the counter artificial oral lubricants like Biotene.
MS: What other agents can fight the harmful effects?
DrM: The best kept secret is a natural sweetener called Xylitol. It is plant derived and actually is good for you with very few calories. It balances the pH, stimulates saliva, and fights the bad bacteria. You can find it in the health section of better grocery stores. Use it just like sugar. Your dentist can supply with chewing gum, breath mints, and toothpastes made with Xylitol. It literally tastes great and is good for you.