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Dry Mouth Concerns in Greer, SC

Saliva plays a crucial role in keeping the mouth moist, clean and helping with food digestion. 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?

Dry mouth may be caused by several factors such as:

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 a lack of saliva.

Side effects of some infections and ailments

Some medical conditions may also cause xerostomia. 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 xerostomia, especially after a head or neck surgery.

Dehydration

Fever, vomiting, sweating, blood loss, diarrhea, severe burns, and similar dehydration conditions may cause xerostomia.

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.

 

Picture depicting what dry mouth feels like

Which Are The Common Symptoms of Xerostomia?

The following symptoms may indicate if you are dealing with a case of xerostomia:

  • Frequent thirstiness
  • Cracked skin and sores inside the mouth
  • Dry throat
  • Burning sensation in the tongue
  • Dry, painful tongue
  • A sticky feeling in the mouth
  • Hoarseness in the mouth and nose
  • Bad breath
  • Problems tasting food
  • Sore throat

Is Xerostomia a Serious Problem?

Besides causing dental problems such as mouth infections (thrush) and damage to the gums, xerostomia increases your risk of contracting gingivitis (gum disease) and dental decay. If you have a a lack of saliva, 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 xerostomia, 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 xerostomia. 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 this 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 Xerostomia?

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 to brush,  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 xerostomia.
  • 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.