This natural dental fluid also controls bacteria and fungi in the mouth, thereby preventing mouth infection. If you don't produce sufficient saliva, your mouth will grow dry and uncomfortable. This will give occasion for bacterial infection and dental decay, among other side effects. Fortunately, there are preventative measures you can take and treatment options to help deal with dry mouth, known as xerostomia in dental terms.
So What Are The Causes Of Dry Mouth?
Side effects of certain drugs or treatment procedures
Dry mouth is one of the many contraindications of certain prescription medications. These include those used to treat anxiety, nausea, depression, epilepsy, allergies, diarrhea, pain, asthma, acne, colds, urinary incontinence, hypertension, psychotic disorders, and Parkinson's disease. These drugs may include antihistamines and decongestants. Sedatives and muscle relaxants can also cause dry mouth.
Side effects of some infections and ailments Some medical conditions may also cause dry mouth. These are HIV/AIDS, Sjögren's syndrome, diabetes, anemia, Alzheimer's disease, mumps, arthritis, cystic fibrosis, and rheumatoid stroke.
Contraindications of some medical treatments Saliva is produced in the salivary glands. When these glands are damaged, it can result in diminished saliva production. For instance, the damage can be caused by chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments.
Damaged nerves Nerve damage to the head or neck can significantly contribute to dry mouth, especially after a head or neck surgery.
Dehydration Fever, vomiting, sweating, blood loss, diarrhea, severe burns, and similar dehydration conditions may cause dry mouth.
Lifestyle habits Smoking tobacco and similar substances can affect the amount of saliva produced, causing your mouth to get dry.
Surgical procedures resulting in the removal of salivary glands. Finally, if you are used to breathing with your mouth open, it can lead to your mouth getting dry most of the time.
Which Are The Common Symptoms of Dry Mouth?
The following symptoms may indicate if you are dealing with a case of dry mouth:
Cracked skin and sores inside the mouth
Burning sensation in the tongue
Dry, painful tongue
A sticky feeling in the mouth
Hoarseness in the mouth and nose
Problems tasting food
Is Dry Mouth a Serious Problem?
Besides causing dental problems such as mouth infections (thrush) and damage to the gums, dry mouth increases your risk of contracting gingivitis (gum disease) and dental decay. If you have a dry mouth, it cannot be easy to use dentures.
What Are The Treatment Options For Dry Mouth?
Treating dry mouth depends on the cause or the symptoms. Since certain medical conditions and medications are the main catalysts for dry mouth, you could begin treatment by first addressing the main reason. Generally, treatment can be achieved through:
Managing or treating the underlying medical conditions causing dry mouth
Using possible natural methods to improve the flow of saliva
Preventing dental decay
Managing Causes Of Dry Mouth
If you believe your dry mouth is due to a particular medication you're using, you should consult your doctor. The doctor may adjust the dose accordingly or prescribe an alternative drug that doesn't affect your saliva flow. Otherwise, if this is not possible due to damage to your salivary glands by a chronic illness such as stroke, Alzheimer's disease, and Sjögren's syndrome, you should focus on treating the underlying condition to improve saliva flow.
Preventing Dental Decay
Saliva is a natural mouth cleanser, which helps fight tooth decay. Otherwise, a dry mouth can lead to rapid tooth decay and gum diseases. So you should ensure that you maintain strict oral hygiene such as:
Regular tooth brushing at least twice a day
Brushing or rinsing the mouth after every meal or before bedtime
Flossing your teeth at least once each day
Using fluoride toothpaste
Getting regular dental check-ups and cleaning at least twice a year
Improving Saliva Flow
If you are suffering from a dry mouth, your dentist may prescribe an oral rinse to help you restore mouth moisture. These products are also available over-the-counter rinse or spray. Additionally, you can use special toothpaste, moisturizing gels, and mouthwashes specifically for dry mouth. Be sure to consult with your dentist before choosing the ideal product for you. Otherwise, your dentist may prescribe a saliva-boosting drug called Salagen. They may also prescribe Evoxac, an FDA-approved drug for treating dry mouth in Sjögren's syndrome patients. Finally, new treatment options are being researched, with scientists working to provide new ways to restore damaged salivary glands.
How Can I Manage Dry Mouth?
To help you manage dry mouth, consider these steps to boost saliva flow:
Suck or chew sugar and acid-free candy or gum containing xylitol.
Suck sugar-free ice pops or chips.
Avoid chewing ice, as it can damage your teeth. Chewing and sucking can stimulate saliva flow. Do it in moderation to avoid affecting your teeth' enamel, cavities, and tooth wear.
Drink lots of water to moisten your mouth and loosen mucus.
Always carry a bottle of water with you and sip in small amounts throughout the day.
Always keep a glass of water by your bedside during the night.
Use fluoride toothpaste and a fluoride rinse, and go for a regular dental check-up.
Avoid mouth rinses or mouthwashes that are made with alcohol or peroxide as they only cause dry mouth.
Try to breathe through your nose, instead of your mouth,
Consume lots of moist foods such as broths, creams, sauces, gravy, soups, and butter or margarine. Ensure you eat moist or soft, sticky foods.
Reduce or avoid your intake of dry or salty foods, dry foods including toast, cookies, crackers, dry bread, dry meats, dried fruit, beverages, and foods containing high sugar content.
Avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages, which dry out the mouth and cause frequent urination resulting in water loss.
Avoid acidic drinks, e.g., orange and tomato juice.
Dry mouth is caused by several ailments, medications, and lifestyle habits. However, with proper dental hygiene, management, and dental care, you can maintain a healthy mouth and dental care. Feel free to contact or schedule a preventive cleaning and exam with Dr. Carraway today.