If you suffer from chronic dry mouth, you are not alone. About 25 million people in the U.S. share your struggle. Dry mouth occurs when the salivary glands are not working properly to lubricate and protect your tongue, prevent cavities, and start the digestive process.
Why does it Matter?
Without saliva to keep oral bacteria in check, dry mouth creates the ideal tooth decay environment. Not only does dry mouth lead to tooth enamel decay, it also causes bad breath and produces a coating on your tongue. In some cases, people experience difficulties eating, tasting, chewing, and swallowing.
What Causes Dry Mouth?
The most common causes we see at the Murray Dental Group are dehydration, stress, smoking, chewing tobacco, alcoholic beverages, caffeinated beverages, and breathing through the mouth for long periods of time. However, it can also be a side effect of a variety of medications such as antihistamines, diuretics, antidepressants, pain relievers, muscle relaxants; and treatments for blood pressure, hypertension, obesity, acne, asthma, and epilepsy. Head and neck radiation from cancer treatment and nerve damage to the neck can also result in a dry mouth. Diseases such as Sjögren’s syndrome, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, cystic fibrosis, anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, and HIV/AIDS may lead to dry mouth.
What are some Symptoms of Dry Mouth?
Symptoms include thirst, thick and stringy saliva, dry sticky mouth, bad breath, dry hoarse throat, dry irritable scratchy tongue, burning or tingling sensation of the tongue, difficulty speaking, inability to chew or swallow or taste food, dry nasal passages, painful sores of the mouth and tongue, chapped lips, and increases in plaque or tooth decay.
How Can I Prevent Dry Mouth?
• Drink fluids frequently
• Chew sugarless gum that contains xylitol (natural sugar substitute) to protect against tooth decay and stimulate saliva flow
• Do not smoke or chew tobacco
• Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air
• Use saliva stimulants/substitutes
• Practice good oral hygiene such as brushing and flossing twice a day
What Are the Treatment Solutions?
Treatments include changing medications and using products that moisturize and produce saliva flow. Some medications such as pilocarpine (salagen) or cevimeline (evoxac) can be taken to stimulate saliva production.
Chronic dry mouth can cause greater oral health issues if not treated properly, so please contact the Murray Dental Group if you are experiencing symptoms.