Parched from dry mouth? Here’s what you can do.
We expect to see dry, parched land in the desert, not feel it in our mouths.
Left untreated, dry mouth can lead to a number of problems, ranging from minor (like bad breath) to major (like tooth decay and other potentially serious diseases)
Unfortunately, the American Academy of Oral Medicine estimates that it’s a very real problem for a good percentage of people — up to 65 percent, according to some estimates. Left untreated, dry mouth can lead to a number of problems, ranging from minor (like bad breath) to major (like tooth decay and other potentially serious diseases).
The good news is that there are ways to fix dry mouth, but first you have to understand why it happens.
What Causes Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth — known medically as xerostomia — happens when saliva inside the mouth changes or decreases. And that’s not a good thing: Saliva is produced by hundreds salivary glands inside the mouth and is there to both help you eat, swallow and digest food, but to also protect and clean your teeth and gums.
Without it, your mouth and body can’t do any of these things effectively, eventually leading to health problems.
Dry mouth can happen for any number of reasons, including from dehydration, surgery, radiation, smoking and diseases like diabetes and hypertension. It’s also a potential side effect of over 110 medications used to treat conditions including depression, urinary incontinence and Parkinson’s disease, according to the AAOM.
An estimated one to four million people also suffer from the autoimmune condition Sjögren’s Syndrome, which is known for causing dry mouth and eyes. It affects mostly women and is typically diagnosed later in life.
How to Tell If You Have Dry Mouth
In some ways, it’s easy to tell if you suffer from dry mouth: You feel like your mouth isn’t as wet as it normally feels. You can also tell if you wake up with a dry, sticky feeling or burning sensation, have noticeable bad breath and dry lips.
Dry mouth can also make it difficult to chew and swallow your food, or leave you feeling like you have a mouth full of cotton.
Why Dry Mouth is Bad For Dental Health
Dry mouth is more than an annoyance; left untreated, it can also cause more serious problems.
Minor problems associated with dry mouth include bad breath, difficulty chewing and swallowing — and it can even make it difficult to use dentures. Over time, untreated dry mouth can increase your risk for gum disease (gingivitis), tooth decay and loss, mouth sores and infections like thrush.
How to Fix Dry Mouth
Luckily, there are a variety of ways to fix dry mouth.
First, talk to your doctor if you think your dry mouth is a result of your medication. They might be able to adjust your dosage, or even switch you to another medicine.
Next up? Your dental hygiene habits. Make sure to brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste or prescription-strength gel made with 0.4% stannous fluoride and 1.0% sodium fluoride. Make sure you floss at least once a day and keep up with regular dental visits.
At home, be sure you’re drinking plenty of sugarless, alcohol- and caffeine-free drinks during the day, like water. Avoid sticky, sugary foods — instead, stock up on sugar-free gum and candies that can help stimulate saliva production. Stay away from spicy and salty food, too.
Make your living environment more comfortable, too, by using a humidifier at night.
Also, it’s a good idea to clue your dentist in on your dry mouth problem. They’ll be able to recommend treatments that can help protect your teeth, like topical fluoride gels added to your teeth during office visits. Contact us at TruFamily Dental to make an appointment today to discuss your dry mouth and ways we can help.
Posted In: Oral & Dental Health Tips