Department of Otolaryngology

Dental Health

Dry mouth (xerostomia) is a common problem for patients over the age of 40 years old.  Dry mouth can usually be a response to diabetes, medications (including blood pressure and anxiety medications), head and neck radiation, and aging. Also, 34 of the 100 most prescribed medications cause dry mouth!  Some helpful hints to alleviating dry mouth are:

  1. Drink an appropriate amount of water.
  2. Keep your mouth clean, as a dry mouth is an acidic mouth.
  3. Use a battery operated toothrush to brush your teeth and floss after every meal.
  4. Use a solution of 1/3 baking soda, to 2/3 water to swish and then spit. This should be done 3 times per day to reduce acidity.
  5. Use Biotene products- especially Oral Balance Gel to wipe the insides of your cheeks before bed.
  6. Sleep with a humidifier.
  7. Use Xylimelts (which can be found at Rite Aid), or any gum/mint with xylitol as an ingredient.
  8. Use OraMoist patches (which can be found at Walgreens and Amazon).These patches adhere to the roof of your mouth and moisturize while you sleep.
  9. Avoid sugar!  As sugar, acid, and bacteria lead to tooth and mouth decay.

Post Head & Neck Cancer Radiation

Following head & neck cancer radiation treatment, there are four things you must do within your daily routine:

  1. Use fluoride trays daily (5 minutes per use).
  2. Stretch for 10 minutes, 3 times each day.
  3. Rinse and spit with baking soda, 3 times each day.Use a solution of 1/3 baking soda, to 2/3 water.
  4. Have regular dental cleanings and check-ups every 3 months.

Keeping your mouth clean is essential to your overall dental health!  You must brush and floss after every meal and avoid sugary drinks.  Never suck on hard candy as this will lead to tooth and mouth decay.  Xylitol mints and gum are available at most all local drug stores.  Be sure to drink an adequate amount of water, and schedule an appointment with your dentist at the first sign of sensitivity.