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Mouth Chemistry


Mouth chemistry is affected by hormonal factors, poor diet, dehydration, and medications, especially those that change hormone levels, affect diuretic or liquid balance, or have the side effect of dry mouth. Sometimes changes in saliva flow and mouth chemistry occur so slowly that you can be unaware of your increased risk for cavities until problems arise.
Women’s mouth chemistry in particular is volatile, and changes that make the mouth more acidic will have devastating effects on their teeth. A number of life situations can influence and cause the chemistry of the mouth to deteriorate. For example, new mothers who have enjoyed perfect teeth all their lives may be shocked to find cavities develop during their pregnancy. Sometimes the damage is seen as loose fillings, bleeding gums, or sensitive teeth. Hormones trigger a change in a pregnant woman’s saliva, altering its quality and limiting its ability to provide natural tooth protection. These changes can occur at any time during a pregnancy, but the most risk for acidic damage to teeth occurs during the last trimester. (See chapter 13 for more details about changes in a woman’s mouth chemistry during pregnancy.)
Other situations, many beyond your control, can suddenly increase your risk of dental damage without warning. One of the best ways to minimize the chance of cavities is to strengthen your teeth in advance of any problems and to protect teeth daily as much as possible. The following is a list of circumstances that can change your mouth chemistry by making saliva more acidic or by drying the mouth and, consequently, elevating the risk of developing cavities and other dental problems:
·         Nasal congestion from seasonal allergies, asthma, or sinus infections
·         Hormonal changes (including pregnancy, adolescence, and menopause)
·         Medications (including Ritalin)
·         Illness with fever or nasal congestion (even a simple cold or the flu)
·         Mouth breathing (athletics, wearing dental braces)
·         A chronic or acutely stressful situation, such as a death or crisis in the family, or business stress
·         Duties that involve constant talking, such as lecturing, teaching, or stage performance
·         Gastric acid reflux
·         Bulimia
·         Chemotherapy or long-term illness
·         Poor diet, with lack of minerals and vitamins
·         Fear
·         Depression
·         Dehydration
·         Aging
·         Work in situations where oxygen changes (divers, astronauts)
·         A feeding or breathing tube in hospitalized patients
The idea of controlling mouth acidity may sound daunting at this time, but you will soon discover how simple routines can give teeth the protection necessary for dental health. Balancing mouth chemistry is relatively easy and will help you avoid dental problems.


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