Tips to deal with dental and oral hygiene problems

July 29, 2015

Various dental problems can interfere with taste sensations — and sometimes with smell as well — so if you have painful or ill-fitting dentures, gum disease or tooth decay, consult your dentist. Cleaning your tongue can also help; use a toothbrush or a special plastic tongue scraper, available from drugstores.

Tips to deal with dental and oral hygiene problems

1. Dry mouth could be the problem

  • Another potentially treatable problem that may affect your sense of taste is a dry mouth. To detect its taste, food needs to be dissolved. As saliva flow diminishes with age, this may be a problem.
  • Suspect dry mouth if you also find swallowing difficult or uncomfortable — and do mention it to your doctor as there are many other possible causes.
  • Dry mouth can also be associated with diabetes and certain auto-immune disorders, such as Sjögren's syndrome, which destroys moisture-producing glands.
  • Or sometimes salivary glands have been blocked or damaged by disease, radiation or surgery.
  • Dry mouth can be a side effect of some medicines, including antidepressants and antihistamines.
  • Your doctor may be able to change your medication and resolve the problem very simply, or prescribe a drug to boost saliva flow.

2. Get the juices flowing

  • Ask your pharmacist about artificial saliva products. Like artificial tears, you can buy these over-the-counter — and indeed, dry mouth and dry eyes sometimes occur simultaneously.
  • Be careful with mouthwashes — some contain alcohol or peroxide that dry out your mouth even more. Ask your dentist about toothpastes and mouthwashes that are specially formulated for people with dry mouth.
  • Keep up your water intake — take frequent sips throughout the day and keep a glass by your bed at night.
  • Avoid alcohol, which has a drying effect in the mouth and causes dehydration that will make dry mouth worse.
  • Avoid tea, coffee, sodas, cocoa and hot chocolate for the same reason, and cut back on acidic foods and drinks, such as citrus fruit or juices.
  • Cut down on salt — it will make your dry mouth worse — and avoid very dry or high-salt foods, such as chips or crackers.
  • Chew gum or suck hard candies to boost saliva flow.
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