Beverly Hills periodontist Mahnaz Rashti, DDS, founder of MR Dental Aesthetics reports a significant uptick in the number of patients with dry mouth, a condition that can be caused by a range of factors including COVID, certain medications, radiation treatment and aging. While the number one complaint from patients is that it causes bad breath, Rashti says that should be the least of their concerns because dry mouth can be a red flag for a range of serious underlying medical conditions like diabetes, stroke, HIV, Alzheimer’s disease and Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder in which one’s body attacks its own cells and tissues. An estimated 10-20% of American adults have dry mouth with seniors experiencing it in far greater numbers.
“The body’s production of saliva is critical not only to one’s oral health but one’s overall health,” says Rashti. “Not only can dry mouth lead to soft tissue damage, tooth decay, gum disease, problems with swallowing, aggressive bacterial colonization and upper respiratory tract infections, it can serve as a warning sign that the patient may be suffering an even more serious, latent medical condition, so it’s wise to see a dentist, orthodontist or periodontist on a regular basis — especially if one starts experiencing dry mouth.”
Rashti says that there are approximately 500 different medications on the U.S.market that block the normal function of the salivary glands and that 20% of the U.S. adult population are taking five or more of these drugs on a regular basis. Combine that with other factors that contribute to dry mouth like smoking, snoring, alcohol and drug use, etc. and it’s easy to see how the number of cases is exploding.
“As the population ages and the dependence on prescription drugs becomes part of one’s daily routine, it is especially important to look for the early signs of dry mouth,” she explains. “Dental professionals not only look out for their patient’s oral health, but are trained to identify signs of other general health conditions. Dry mouth can be the first sign that something else is going wrong in your body and it may precipitate a visit to the family physician. One thing not to do….ignore the early signs as doing so can lead to irreversible damage.”
Rashti recommends visiting the dentist twice annually to ensure good oral hygiene and keep track of any developing problems. In addition, she advises brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes using a fluoride based toothpaste, flossing regularly and using mouthwash.
Mahnaz Rashti, D.D.S. has maintained a practice in the center of Beverly Hills since 1994. She is a graduate of the College of Dentistry of New York University and completed her 5-year residency at the VA Hospital in Los Angeles, where she treated medically compromised patients suffering from cancer, smoking-related illnesses and other life-threatening conditions. This led her to become a full-mouth reconstruction specialist where she conducted the most intense and life-changing work of her career involving patients who lost parts of their faces in combat. She also established her own nonprofit dedicated to helping veterans in need, children being bullied, survivors of domestic abuse and others who don’t have the finances for dental work. Her practice is a family affair with her husband, Fred, who manages the business operations for the practice and their son Benjamin and daughter Rebecca who help with social media and other day to day duties. It is located at 9735 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 307, Beverly Hills. Contact 310-623-3330 or visit DrRashti.com for more information.
Beverly Hills Smiles Dental Group
9735 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 307
Disclaimer: The views, suggestions, and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Boston New Times journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.