Face it, a lot of my peeps with Hepatitis C have bad teeth. If you have a drinking or drug problem, hygiene may be low on the daily living list. Yet before treatment for HEP C, the medical team encourages you to catch up all systems. So, maintenance for eyes, lungs, naughty bits, you get the idea. I didn’t have big concerns because I was current on all systems, having been clean and sober a quarter of a century. Treatment HO!
Well, Hep C treatment affected my priorities. I was so sick. Daily I was just trying to stay on the planet, hoping gravity didn’t take a holiday. I didn’t care at all about my grooming, cleanliness, appearance, or anything that healthy people care about.
And my teeth? I have been a nut about dental hygiene since discovering dental floss at age twenty-one. I come from a long line of false teeth people cleaning between teeth with match book covers. Yuck. I never saw a dentist until I was fifteen. Dr. Ache, yes that was his name, removed an important molar (aren’t they all?)
In treatment I tried to keep up dental grooming but sometimes it was days between flossing. Since I rarely ate, it wasn’t a big deal. But, one thing I didn’t consider was that my mouth was always dry even when I drank liquids. So here I am one year after treatment and my dentist is having expensive talks with me about teeth and gum line issues. Not gingivitis, existing dental implants (from lack of pediatric dentistry).
HEPATITIS C AND DRY MOUTH:
Many drugs cause dry mouth including Hep C drugs and antidepressants. So what? Saliva is essential for keeping your mouth clean and lubricated. Saliva contains enzymes that flush away food and odor-causing bacteria. So what? A dry mouth is a marvelous arena for bad breath, cavities and mouth infections. Symptoms include:
- Dry mouth (duh)
- Cracked lips
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty eating dry food
- Altered sense of taste
- Plaque, decay, gum disease
- Sores or cracks at corners of mouth
- Sore throat
- Oh yes, increased risk of head and neck cancer
Remembering to sip water every fifteen minutes was out of the question, so I sucked on sugar-free hard candy and chewed sugar-free gum. Obviously this didn’t save my oral cavity. My dentist says I have a geographic tongue. I will leave that statement alone.
Okay I have created a new entry for your list of “Shit that doesn’t work“. Now what?
GlaxoSmithKline claims to have the elixir for all your dry mouth angst. Biotene is a triad of gel, mouthwash and toothpaste. My dentist gave me a sample of the triple threat. My experience has been short-term relief, maybe that is the best Biotene can do.
BTW, it has been over a year since treatment but I am still on antidepressants and still have a dry mouth. Dang.