Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, isn’t just uncomfortable; it can also lead to bad breath, mouth ulcers, and gum disease. Fortunately, professional dental care can minimize and treat xerostomia with a variety of methods.
Symptoms of Dry Mouth
People who experience dry mouth may experience the following:
- trouble speaking
- difficulty eating and tasting food
People with the condition experience difficulty at night. Most people who suffer from this are mouth breathers, and can sleep through the night with their mouth opens therefore experiencing
- chapped or cracked lips
- dry eyes
- dry throat
- pale gums
- bad breath
- persistent cough.
Those affected may also complain of sores in their mouth, or a white tongue indicative
The Importance of Treating Dry Mouth
Xerostomia can cause physical pain and discomfort as the lack of saliva can lead to mouth sores, a sore and parched mouth, cracks at the corners of the mouth, and trouble speaking or eating.
The lack of saliva can even lead to serious dental problems. The minerals in saliva serve an important purpose as they help cleanse the teeth and inhibit bacterial growth. Without enough saliva, plaque formation gets out of control. This leads to gingivitis (gum disease), mouth infections, and tooth decay. Xerostomia can also make it difficult to wear dentures comfortably.
How a Dentist Can Help
There are many potential causes of xerostomia. When a patient comes in complaining of a dry and painful mouth, Biscayne Dental Care will use the patient’s health history to determine the cause and then choose the best course of action to alleviate the dryness. An accurate diagnosis usually involves asking a few questions to pinpoint the source of the issue:
- Do you take any medication? There are more than 500 medications that can cause xerostomia, including common pain medications, muscle relaxants, decongestants, depression and anxiety medication, and antihistamines.
- Are you receiving cancer therapy? Radiation treatment for cancer in the head or neck can often cause xerostomia as the radiation causes damage to saliva glands. Chemotherapy can also change how much saliva the body produces. This may be temporary or permanent.
- Are you a smoker? Xerostomia is a common side effect of cigarette smoking.
- Do you have a systemic autoimmune disorder? Several autoimmune disorders are associated with difficulty producing saliva, particularly Sjögren’s syndrome, which attacks the saliva glands.
After identifying the cause of the xerostomia, Biscayne Dental Care can recommend a number of products and at-home treatments to increase the amount of saliva produced.
Depending on the severity and cause of the problem, avoiding certain foods can alleviate the dryness. For example, sugar dries the mouth so avoiding alcohol, coffee, and caffeinated drinks can help. Drinking more water throughout the day can help the mouth stay moistened. Chewing sugar-free gum can also stimulate the production of saliva.
We also recommend patients schedule an appointment with their primary care physician to go over their list of medications and review potential alternatives if the dryness is very severe or painful.
Biscayne Dental Care may also recommend using products designed for xerostomia. A gel can provide relief from the pain of the dryness. There are also several toothpastes and mouthwashes designed to increase saliva production and relieve dryness. Biotene Oral Rinse and ACT Total Care Dry Mouth Rinse, for example, treat dryness while guarding against tooth decay.
The best way to determine the cause of xerostomia and the right treatment option is a visit to Biscayne Dental Care. Regular checkups at least twice a year can help detect and treat xerostomia as well as the tooth decay and gingivitis that can accompany it.