Saliva plays a vital role in keeping your teeth healthy and cavity free. Dry mouth, xerostomia, can lead to issues such as quicker development of cavities, sores in the mouth, split lips, a raw tongue, problems speaking, difficulty eating and even a sore throat and bad breath. Dry mouth may not be dangerous in and of itself, but the impact of dry mouth can be far reaching and devastating to the long lasting health of your teeth.
What Causes Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth can be caused by a variety of factors, but is most commonly caused by medications the person is taking. For example, dry mouth is common to those taking medicine for depression, pain, allergies or acne. However, it can also be caused by some diseases, such as diabetes, anemia, HIV/AIDS and even hypertension.
While these are the more common reasons, WebMD also lists nerve injury (from an accident or surgery), removal of salivary glands and lifestyle (tobacco use) as causes of dry mouth.
If you’re unsure about what might be causing your dry mouth, it is best to consult with a doctor who is familiar with what medications you’re taking and what health issues you might be dealing with. Simply switching medications may help alleviate some of the problem.
How to Treat Dry Mouth
There are a number of things you should do in order to maintain good dental health when you have dry mouth.
- Drink water often throughout the day. Sip small amounts often.
- Avoid caffeine, which can further dry the mouth.
- Chew sugar-free gum or sugar-free hard candy to help the mouth produce saliva.
- Avoid tobacco, because it dries mouth.
- Avoid alcohol, because it also dries the mouth.
- Your dentist may also recommend an oral wash to help moisten the mouth and protect your teeth.
If you suspect you may have dry mouth but you’re not certain, your dental professional can review your dental history and conduct a sialometry, which is an examination of your mouth where saliva is collected to determine the flow rate of your saliva. There are also tests to rule out any masses in the salivary gland.
If you’re concerned about dry mouth, talk to the dental professionals at our office to determine if you’re suffering from this condition and what can be done to treat it.