Some patients may think that dry mouth (xerostomia) is a mere annoyance, but it can actually have serious consequences for your oral health. If you’re experiencing this problem, talk to your dentist about steps that you can take to treat or prevent it.
When patients have inadequate saliva, oral bacteria have the opportunity to proliferate and they can increase the patient’s risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
In order to address dry mouth, your dentist will first look for the factors that may be causing the problem. Any of the following can contribute to dry mouth:
- Side effects from medications, such as psychotropics, diuretics, allergy and cold medications and bronchodilators.
- Symptoms of certain diseases, such as Sjorgen’s syndrome, Parkinson’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Dehydration – if you’re not consuming enough liquids, especially water, your entire body can become dehydrated, including your mouth.
- Medical treatments – Radiation for head and neck cancers may contribute to dry mouth, as can chemotherapy.
- Tobacco use – Another reason to give up smoking or chewing tobacco is to reduce your risk of dry mouth.
If the dentist suspects a medical condition is contributing to your dry mouth, you may be referred to your primary care doctor or another physician for further evaluation. If medication may be the culprit, ask your doctor if there are any alternatives that don’t cause dry mouth.
Dry mouth is treatable. Make sure that you are drinking enough water, for starters. If that doesn’t provide some relief, consider chewing sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production. Artificial saliva substitutes are available over the counter, and they can be tremendously valuable as well.
Of course, if you smoke, we highly encourage you to give up that habit. You’ll get a variety of health benefits, in addition to reducing dry mouth.
If you have any symptoms of dry mouth, such as excessive thirst, difficulty chewing and swallowing, sores in the mouth or dryness in the throat and tongue, contact The Dental Place at 972-264-5795 and consult with one of our dental experts to learn how you might address the problem.