If you're taking antidepressants, then you may notice that your mouth is drier than it used to be. These medications can come with a side effect that gives you dry mouth syndrome, a condition which prevents the mouth from producing normal amounts of saliva.
While your main concern may be trying to deal with the discomfort of a dry mouth, this problem can also lead to issues with your teeth and gums. The saliva you produce helps keep your mouth healthy; if you don't have enough, you may have a higher risk of developing dental decay and gum problems. If you are suffering from this side effect, you may find it useful to follow these steps to protect your teeth and gums:
- Follow an impeccable dental hygiene routine: If your saliva can't help protect your teeth and gums as it should, then you need to make sure that you are really on top of your dental hygiene. Make sure to brush your teeth twice a day; daily flossing can also help clean around the gums and between your teeth.
- Make your mouth wetter: Some of the things you eat and drink dry out the mouth; other things make it wetter. For example, caffeinated drinks will dry your mouth out so it may be worth switching to decaff. It's also worth eating moist foods rather than dry ones. You may also find it useful to chew sugar-free gum or to suck sugar-free boiled sweets, both of which make you produce more saliva.
- Keep your dentist informed: It's a good idea to tell your dentist that you are taking antidepressants and to discuss your dry mouth problem. Your dentist can then look out for dental problems that may be down to oral dryness during your check-ups; they may also recommend a regular cleaning schedule to compensate for the lack of saliva in your mouth. In addition, your dentist can point you in the direction of dental products designed to deal with dry mouth syndrome, such as toothpastes, gels and mouthwashes that boost saliva production.
- Talk to your doctor: In some cases, you may be able to reduce dry mouth effects by switching to a different medication or by changing your dosage. Bear in mind that you shouldn't stop taking your medication or alter its dose without the specific advice of your doctor. If you, or your doctor, feel that this isn't a viable solution, your doctor may be able to prescribe saliva replacement or boosting gels and liquids that may help.
Having a dry mouth doesn't mean that you will develop dental problems; however, it does increase the risk factors. So, it is worth taking steps to protect your teeth and gums. For more information, contact a dentist.