Could you be suffering from Dry Mouth?
We don’t often think about saliva, but it actually plays an important role in our health. For instance, one of its functions is controlling bacteria in the mouth helping to prevent infections and tooth decay. A thin film of saliva covers the teeth and buffers against bacteria, while antimicrobial agents in saliva kill disease-causing bacteria. As saliva moves around the mouth, it sweeps away small bits of food that feed the bacteria responsible for tooth decay. Dry Mouth is a condition where the mouth does not make enough saliva to perform its vital functions. Medically this is called Xerostomia. It is important to be aware of the symptoms of Dry Mouth because the condition can cause serious tooth decay.
Common Symptoms of Dry Mouth:
- Frequent thirst
- A sticky, dry feeling in the mouth
- A dry, red, raw tongue
- Sores in the mouth, split skin or sores at the corners of the mouth, cracked lips
- A dry feeling in the throat
- Bad breath
- A burning or tingling sensation in the mouth, especially on the tongue
Common Causes of Dry Mouth:
- Medication – Medications are one of the most common causes of Dry Mouth.
- Dehydration – Dehydration could simply be from not drinking enough water, but can also be caused by illness or conditions that cause fever, vomiting, excessive sweating, etc.
- Smoking – Smoking can aggravate a dry mouth condition.
- Diseases – Certain diseases such as sleep apnea, diabetes, anemia, cystic fibrosis, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, and Parkinson’s disease to name a few.
- Damage to the salivary glands – Medical treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy to the neck can damage the salivary glands. Of course, there can also be a situation where the salivary glands have to be removed.
- Nerve Damage – A person could suffer nerve damage from a head or neck injury that could cause the saliva glands to no longer function properly.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help relieve Dry Mouth.
Some Remedies for Dry Mouth
- Hydrate. Drink plenty of water to help keep your mouth moist.
- Breathing. Breathe through your nose, not your mouth, as much as possible.
- Humidifier. Use a humidifier to add moisture to the bedroom air.
- Saliva Substitutes. There over-the-counter products that help substitute for the lack of saliva.
While there are over the counter medications to relieve dry mouth, it’s important to first seek treatment about what’s causing your dry mouth. If you feel like your mouth is always dry, a dentist will check your teeth for signs of decay that can result from decreased salivary flow. A physician can test for any underlying disease or conditions that may be causing your dry mouth.
There are many causes for Dry Mouth. Whatever the cause, when left untreated Dry Mouth can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Therefore, it is very important to keep your regular exam appointments with your dentist, especially if you suspect you may have Dry Mouth. Then we can catch the problem before serious damage is done. So above all, let your dentist know if you have any of the Dry Mouth symptoms.
Contact us at Christensen Dental and schedule your next appointment.
Dr. Ashley Anderson