Saliva contains proteins and enzymes that keep your mouth lubricated and healthy. However, when the amount of saliva in your mouth decreases, dry mouth occurs. It’s a common problem that affects one out of every four adults.
Symptoms of Dry Mouth
If you have dry mouth, you might experience any of the following:
- Oral dryness
- Extreme thirst
- Dry, cracked lips
- Trouble swallowing
- Problems eating dry foods
- Altered sense of taste
- Increased plaque leading to tooth decay or gum disease
- Split skin at the corners of the mouth
- Sore throat
- Problems speaking
Causes of Dry Mouth
More than 400 different medications are associated with dry mouth, and if you take more than one medication, it significantly increases your chances of having dry mouth. Medications that can cause dry mouth include:
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- Beta blockers
Surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy can damage salivary tissue and dramatically decrease salivary flow. Some people may even experience a total loss of salivary output.
Diagnosing Dry Mouth
Contact us if you think you’re suffering from dry mouth. We’ll diagnose your condition by considering your medical history, drug history and clinical symptoms like frothy saliva, altered gingival structure, cervical caries or a lack of pooling saliva.
Treatment of Dry Mouth
Treatment for dry mouth depends in large part on its cause. In some cases, the condition is temporary and will go away once you stop taking a medication or undergoing cancer treatment. However, if you must take a daily maintenance medication that causes dry mouth, you’ll need to find ways to manage the symptoms of dry mouth rather than cure the condition. Here are some tips to alleviate symptoms:
- Chew sugar-free gum.
- Sip on water throughout the day.
- Use alcohol-free mouthwash or use one that’s design especially for dry mouth.
- Limit caffeine.
- Stop smoking.
- Breathe through your nose instead of your mouth.
- Use a humidifier to put moisture in the air while you’re sleeping.
Effects of Dry Mouth
Dry mouth can cause chronic bad breath, cavities, mouth infections and several other physical, social and emotional issues. Since dry mouth can impact the health of your teeth and gums, it’s important to:
- Avoid sugary snacks and acidic foods because they can lead to tooth decay.
- Brush with a fluoride toothpaste. Talk to us about prescription fluoride toothpaste.
- Use a fluoride rinse at night before bed.
- Come in for a cleaning and exam twice a year. That way, we can identify and treat tooth decay early.