When your mouth fails to make the appropriate amount of saliva, dry mouth is the result. We often take our saliva for granted and fail to understand how important it is in keeping your mouth healthy. The saliva flushes food particles away from the teeth, reducing decay-causing acids, and when dry mouth occurs, your teeth are at risk. By better understanding dry mouth and what you can do about it, you’ll take the first steps in maintaining a healthy mouth.
Dry Mouth Causes
So now that you know a little more about what dry mouth is, you may be wondering what caused it. While each situation is different and unique, there are several reasons that you may have developed dry mouth:
-Part of the natural aging process. Dry mouth can be something that happens because of age, as dry mouth tends to worsen as you get older.
-Medications. There are many medications that can cause dry mouth as a side effect. These include both prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs. Among the most common to cause this side effect include medicines used to treat anxiety, high blood pressure, and depression, although decongestants and antihistamines are also culprits.
-Nerve damage. If you have suffered an injury that led to nerve damage in the neck or head, you may experience dry mouth. The same can be said if you’ve had surgery on this part of your body.
-Drug, tobacco, and alcohol use. Drinking and use of tobacco lead to a variety of oral health consequences, including dry mouth. These activities will increase your dry mouth symptoms and can exacerbate any oral health problems.
-Health conditions. In addition to the medication used to treat them, certain health conditions can cause dry mouth on their own. These include oral thrush, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and autoimmune diseases like HIV/AIDS.
-Habits. If you snore at night or tend to breathe through your mouth instead of your nose, your risk of dry mouth symptoms will be much higher.
Regardless of the case of your dry mouth issue, complications will remain the same. Without enough saliva, you’ll be at risk for mouth sores, tooth decay, gum disease, cracked lips, and split skin in the corners of your mouth.
Symptoms of Dry Mouth
If your mouth fails to produce enough saliva, you may suffer from dry mouth and experience the following symptoms:
-A feeling of dryness or stickiness in your mouth
-Chronic bad breath
-Saliva that feels stringy or thick
-Problems with swallowing, speaking, and chewing
-A hoarse or sore throat
-Difficulty with fitting and wearing dentures
While you may not experience all of these symptoms, even some of them may be indicative of dry mouth.
Dry Mouth Treatment
There are several things you can do to control your dry mouth symptoms. Limiting your caffeine intake and avoiding alcohol-containing mouthwash can help. Sip water throughout the day, and try an over-the-counter saliva substitute that contains Xylitol. Speaking of Xylitol, sugar-free gum that contains it will also help to stimulate the flow of saliva in order to reduce your symptoms of dry mouth.
Other steps can help to protect your teeth if you suffer from dry mouth. Be sure to always brush with a fluoride toothpaste, and consider adding a fluoride rinse to your oral hygiene routine. Also avoid acidic or sugary foods and beverages because they will further increase your tooth decay risk.
If you suffer from dry mouth, it is important to identify the cause in order to determine the best solution. We can help you do this, and setting up an appointment in our office is the first step. You can use our convenient web-based form to request an appointment, or you can call our helpful office staff at 479-646-0706.