Do you suffer from dry mouth?
Everyone experiences a dry mouth once in a while, like when you’re a little upset, nervous or stressed out. But sometimes that dry, sticky feeling doesn’t go away. Not only is this condition unpleasant, it can eventually lead to some serious oral health problems.
The technical term for dry mouth is xerostomia and the condition is caused by the reduction in saliva in your mouth due to your salivary glands not functioning properly. It’s important your oral health these glands work well and keep your mouth moist. When the conditions are too dry, the risk of infection, gingivitis and tooth decay increases substantially. A dry mouth can also make it more challenging to wear dentures.
Since dry mouth can lead to speech and eating problems as well as an increase in dental cavities, it’s important you are able to recognize the signs and symptoms so you can work with a professional to treat the condition.
There are several signs of dry mouth:
- Dry throat
- Difficulty swallowing or speaking
- Trouble eating and tasting food
- Persistent cough
- Bad breath
- Increased sores in mouth
- Oral soreness
- Chapped or cracked lips
Who is affected?
Dry mouth can affect people of all ages, although 30 percent of people over the age of 65 are estimated to experience dry mouth regularly. One of the biggest culprits is prescription and over-the-counter medication. More than 400 medications are said to contribute to dry mouth including antidepressants, painkillers, diuretics, antihistamines, antihypertensives and tranquilizers. Ask your doctor if the medications you are taking could be contributing to dry mouth.
This condition can also be caused by chemotherapy, radiation therapy and hormonal issues. Diseases, such as diabetes, anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, cystic fibrosis, and hypertension, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Sjögren’s syndrome and AIDS can also cause dry mouth. If you are suffering from dehydration due to vomiting, excessive sweating, diarrhea, blood loss or a fever, you are likely to have similar symptoms. People who smoke or chew tobacco can aggravate dry mouth by upsetting saliva production.
Why is saliva so important?
Saliva does more than keep your mouth moist. It helps neutralize the harmful acids in your mouth, ultimately protecting your teeth from decay. In addition to making it possible for you to chew and swallow your food, saliva helps wash away the bacteria in your mouth and aids in the digestion of food.
Dry mouth solutions
There are several simple ways you can help improve your saliva levels:
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine
- Avoid smoking
- Avoid acidic juices
- Avoid salty foods
- Use room vaporizer to add moisture to atmosphere
- Use artificial saliva substitute
- Drink plenty of water to keep mouth moist
- Suck on sugarless candy or chew sugar-free gum
- Brush your teeth twice a day and floss
- Visit your dentist regularly to diagnose and treat issues
If you think you might be suffering from dry mouth, discuss your condition with both your physician as well as your dentist as they will be able to diagnose as well as advise. Sometimes relief can be found if a medication can be changed or a dosage adjusted by your doctor. Your dentist may even suggest or prescribe an oral rinse, an artificial saliva product to help keep your mouth moist. Maintaining a healthy mouth is vital to your long-term oral health.
Please contact Cambridge Family Dentistry for a free consultation if you have any questions or concerns about dry mouth and how it can be treated.
Please contact us by calling:
(316) 687-2110 or toll-free (877) 687-2110.
We look forward to meeting you.
The Cambridge Family Dentistry clinic is located at 2020 N. Webb Road in Wichita, Kansas