About 25 million people in the U.S. suffer from dry mouth in some form. Dry mouth occurs when the salivary glands are not working properly. It may not sound like a big problem, but it can lead to more serious oral health issues.
WHY IS SALIVA IMPORTANT?
Saliva lubricates and protects the tongue while also preventing teeth from developing cavities. In addition, saliva starts the digestive process by breaking down food stuck in the teeth.
WHAT CAUSES DRY MOUTH?
The most common causes of dry mouth are dehydration, stress, smoking, chewing tobacco, alcoholic beverages, caffeinated beverages, using methamphetamine, and breathing through the mouth for long periods of time. However, it can also be a side effect of a variety of medications such as antihistamines, diuretics, antidepressants, pain relievers, muscle relaxants, blood pressure, hypertension, obesity, acne, asthma, and epilepsy medications. Radiation to the neck and head for cancer treatment and nerve damage to the neck can also result in a dry mouth. Diseases such as Sjögren’s syndrome, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, cystic fibrosis, anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, a stroke, and HIV/AIDS may lead to dry mouth.
WHAT ARE SOME SYMPTOMS OF DRY MOUTH?
Dry mouth is represented by symptoms such as thirst, thick and stringy saliva, dry sticky mouth, bad breath, dry hoarse throat, dry irritable scratchy tongue, burning or tingling sensation of the tongue, difficulty speaking, inability to chew or swallow or taste food, dry nasal passages, painful sores of the mouth and tongue, chapped lips, and increases in plaque or tooth decay.
WHAT ARE THE RESULTS OF DRY MOUTH?
Unfortunately, dry mouth creates the ideal tooth decay environment due to lack of saliva, which keeps oral bacteria in check. Not only does dry mouth lead to tooth enamel decay, it also causes bad breath and produces a coating on your tongue. In some cases, it results in difficulties eating, tasting, chewing, and swallowing.
HOW CAN I PREVENT DRY MOUTH?
- Drink fluids frequently
- Chew sugarless gum that contains xylitol (natural sugar substitute) to protect against tooth decay and stimulate saliva flow
- Do not smoke or chew tobacco
- Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air
- Use saliva stimulants/substitutes
- Practice good oral hygiene such as brushing and flossing twice a day
Most importantly, schedule and attend regular dental exams at Liberty Family Dentistry to allow your dentist to prevent or treat dry mouth.
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT SOLUTIONS?
There are ways to treat dry mouth including changing medications and using products that moisturize and produce saliva flow. Some medications such as pilocarpine (Salagen) or cevimeline (Evoxac) can be taken to stimulate saliva production.
IF YOU HAVE DRY MOUTH, CALL US TODAY…
Dry mouth can cause greater oral health issues if not treated properly, so please contact us today at Liberty Family Dentistry ifyou are experiencing symptoms of dry mouth.