Most of us have experienced dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, at one or more times in our lives. Whether it occurs at night or during the day, dry mouth can be frustrating and uncomfortable. But when it comes to your oral health, dry mouth is more than just an annoyance it’s a serious issues.
Saliva is responsible for coating the teeth to protect them against damage, neutralizing acids, and washing away bad bacteria and bits of leftover food. When dry mouth occurs there is not enough saliva to accomplish these tasks. Overtime you will start seeing damage to your enamel, tooth sensitivity, early signs of gum disease, and cavities. If not taken care the damage from dry mouth will continue to get worse.
Symptoms Of Dry Mouth:
Other than the obvious dry feeling of dry mouth there are a few symptoms that occur because of dry mouth.
- Stringy saliva
- Mouth sores
- Bad breath
- Sore throat
- Chapped lips
- Sticky feeling in your mouth
- Changed sense of taste
What Causes Dry Mouth:
Dehydration: Dehydration may cause the occasional case of dry mouth at night or during the day but if your experiencing dry mouth on a regular basis there is typically another underlying cause.
Type of Diet: Certain drinks can lead to dry mouth. Some of the most common offenders include coffee, alcohol, and carbonated beverages.
Certain Types of Medication: According to the Mayo Clinic, several medications can cause dry mouth including, muscle relaxants, antidepressants, anxiety medication, and antihistamines.
Chemotherapy & Radiation: If you’ve had these treatments your salivary glands may be changed or damaged causing dry mouth.
Certain Medical Conditions: Dry mouth is often associated with diabetes and Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder.
Tobacco Use: Frequent tobacco use, especially smoking, can cause changes in saliva production creating dry mouth and leading to bad breath.
How To Manage Dry Mouth:
Cut Out Drinks That Are Known To Cause Dry Mouth: Cut out the most common dry mouth offenders such as coffee, alcohol, caffeine, and carbonated beverages. Even if these drinks aren’t the root cause of your dry mouth they could be making it worse.
Make Sure Your Hydrated: If your dry mouth is caused by dehydration drinking plenty of water is a simple cure. Staying hydrated is still important and can sometimes help treat dry mouth even if your condition is caused by other issues.
Dry Mouth – Sugar Free GumChew Sugar-Free Gum: Although this won’t cure your dry mouth, chewing sugar free gum can stimulate the salivary glands to release more saliva temporarily giving you relief from dry mouth. It’s important to make sure you are using sugar free gum, since the benefits you relieve from relieving dry mouth will be negated by the sugar content in regular gum.
Don’t Use Mouthwashes That Contain Alcohol: Alcohol containing mouthwashes can be drying and make your dry mouth worse. Opt for an alcohol-free mouthwash that are made for dry mouth sufferers, these typically include xylitol as an ingredient.
Suck On Sugar-Free Lozenges: Similar to using sugar free gum, you can also suck on sugar free lozenges to try and stimulate the salivary glands to release more saliva to give you temporary relief.
Breathe Through Your Nose Not Mouth: To reduce the amount of moisture you lose to the outside air, breathe through your nose not your mouth.
Use A Humidifier: If you tend to breathe through your mouth during the night you may want to add a humidifier to the room you sleep in. Although breathing through your nose would be the best option, adding a humidifier will add moisture to the air and keep your mouth a little less dry.
If you’re suffering from dry mouth make sure you visit your dentist every 6 months to catch any problems early and mitigate the damage of dry mouth. Your dentist will be able to evaluate your teeth and gums to see if your dry mouth is causing issues and can give you even more tips to help you manage your dry mouth. To schedule an appointment with one of our dentists fill out our online contact form or give us a call at 202-333-3883.