For someone with chronic dry mouth, the condition is much more than simply feeling thirsty, it means that their mouth isn’t making enough or any saliva. Saliva is essential for a healthy body and mouth as it aids in tasting food and drinks and it helps digestion. Saliva helps flush food particles away from teeth and gums, which prevents tooth decay and for those suffering dry mouth, lack of saliva can lead to dental issues.
Consequences of dry mouth
Along with the inability to remove food particles properly from the mouth with saliva, those with dry mouth may also suffer from bad breath, a tickle in the throat or sounding horse.
Causes of dry mouth
A large number of medications can lead to dry mouth, including over the counter medications such as those for cold and allergy symptoms. Prescription medications that can cause dry mouth include those meant to treat mental health issues and high blood pressure. Cancer radiation can hurt the glands that create saliva and chemotherapy may thicken saliva, which both make the mouth feel dry. Other causes of dry mouth include alcohol and/or caffeine consumption, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and nerve damage. Nerve damage from a neck or head injury can damage nerves that transfer the messages from the brain to the salivary glands, which may stop the production of saliva.
Another reason not to smoke
Along with being bad for your overall and oral health, smoking can make dry mouth worse. Although smoking doesn’t cause dry mouth, using cigarettes, pipes and other tobacco products exacerbate dry mouth and interfere with saliva production.
Treating dry mouth
To pursue the right dry mouth treatment, patients need to consult with their doctor or dentist and find out if it’s caused by medications or a medical condition. Without adequate saliva production, it’s even more important that patients take care of their teeth and gums with regular brushing, flossing and dental checkups. Rinsing after meals and sipping water through the day can help compensate for lack of saliva and remove food particles from the mouth. Avoiding acidic, sugary, and caffeinated drinks helps reduce the effects of dry mouth as does using a humidifier while sleeping. To help produce saliva, patients can try sugar-free gum or candy to trigger saliva and non-prescription saliva substitutes can provide relief.
If you’re currently experiencing dry mouth, want to find ways to treat it effectively and wish to avoid oral health complications, contact Chianese Dental to set up an appointment for a complete dental exam.