Chronic dry mouth is a condition that numerous Prevent Dental Suite patients suffer from, but often these patients are unaware of how dangerous it can be. In fact, not only can a dry mouth be inconvenient and painful, but it can also lead to severe dental issues if not treated in a timely manner.
For this reason, today’s blog post takes a look at the symptoms, causes, related conditions, and solutions to dry mouth!
The problem with dry mouth
The biggest problem with a dry mouth is that the bacteria that lead to tooth decay and gum disease love a dry environment.
While no one wants cavities, gum disease is by far the bigger concern, partly because recent research has linked the systemic inflammation associated with periodontal disease to the risks of heart disease, stroke, and other serious issues.
There is more: Your saliva is naturally alkaline (having a pH greater than 7), which neutralises acids in the foods you eat from eating away at your teeth. Dry mouth negatively affects this alkalinity. A sore throat, problems talking or swallowing, and a painful feeling in your mouth are also inconvenient or painful symptoms of dry mouth.
For all these reasons, dry mouth is a dangerous condition that should be treated before it leads to larger issues.
Causes of dry mouth
- Diseases, infections, and other medical issues: Many medical conditions cause dry mouth including hypertension, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, HIV/AIDS, mumps, rheumatoid arthritis, anemia, diabetes, Sjögren’s syndrome, and Alzheimer’s.
- Medications: Some prescription and OTC medications have dry mouth as a recognized side effect. Medications for everything from acne, anxiety, allergies, depression, pain, congestion, hypertension, nausea, and diarrhea, mental disorders, asthma, obesity, epilepsy, and Parkinson’s disease can cause dry mouth. Dry mouth can also result from some sedatives and muscle relaxants.
- Medical treatments: Some medical treatments can damage your salivary glands including surgical removal of the glands, radiation, and chemotherapy.
- Dehydration: If we are dehydrated, dry mouth can result. As we become more dehydrated or age, the bodies’ dry mouth signal becomes weaker and can disappear altogether. It is important to recognize the other indicators of thirst and dehydration.
- Bad habits: If you chew tobacco or smoke, the risk of dry mouth increases, or you could aggravate the condition if it is already present. So go ahead and kick those bad habits for good!
- Breathing difficulties: If you have ongoing sinus problems or any issues that lead you to breathe through your mouth, dry mouth can result.
- Aging: As you age your salivary glands may not functions as well as they once did. This, too, can lead to dry mouth.
Treating Dry Mouth
Here are some strategies you can use at home to improve saliva production:
- Use sugar free gum or mints. These products stimulate saliva production. Look for products containing xylitol, to avoid sugar.
- Brush and floss daily. This is the most common thing we recommend for all patients, but good oral health hygiene prevents plaque buildup that leads to tooth decay and gum disease. Brush at least twice a day and floss once.
- Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated increases saliva output and helps keep you healthy. Drink water after snacking, and avoid sticky snacks such as candy, raisins, crackers, or pretzels.
- Smoking dries out the mouth and makes you more susceptible to gum diseases and oral cancer.
- Talk to your dentist and doctor. Discuss dry mouth issues with your dentist and doctor and follow their recommendations.
- Try using a humidifier, particularly while you sleep, to moisten room air.
- Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol as they can dry out the mouth. Also, avoid mouthwashes containing alcohol.
Prevent Dental Suite can help
Visit your Prevent Dental Suite dentist to develop a comprehensive plan for dry mouth treatment. This plan may involve:
- More frequent trips to the dentist.
- Topical fluoride treatments
- Prescription home fluoride
- Antibacterial/antifungal mouthwashes or other products including Xylitol gum. Diagnostic x-rays may need to be taken more frequently to monitor dental decay.
- Prescription of drugs that increase saliva production.
Persistent dry mouth can increase the chance of fungal or viral infections. These may also develop from friction caused by dentures or edges of worn or defective dental restorations. We can prescribe medications for use in treating infections related to dry mouth.
Together, we can fight dry mouth and its complications!
High-quality Dental Care at Prevent Dental Suite
Prevent Dental Suites is comprised of dedicated dental professionals who provide gentle and patient-oriented care to offer the best-quality dental service from the moment patients enter into our office. Dr. Shilpa Gupta is the resident dentist at our Kallangur clinic, and combines many years’ experience with personable service. To learn more about our amazing team, go to our team page.
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