The Dangers and Treatment of Dry Mouth
By John Rink DDS on August 07, 2013
If you’ve ever had that sticky feeling in your mouth from a lack of saliva, you’ve probably experienced dry mouth. Also known as xerostomia, dry mouth is a condition in which the mouth is overly dry. While this might seem like a simple annoyance, it’s actually a problem that, when chronic, has serious consequences. Not only can chronic dry mouth make it difficult to chew and taste food, it can actually jeopardize the health of the gums and teeth.
Dangers of Dry Mouth
While most patients have experienced dry mouth at some point in their life, chronic dry mouth is a serious condition. Saliva is needed to protect teeth, regulate bacteria and fungi in the mouth, heal wounds, and help break down food when eating. When there is no saliva, the teeth and gums are exposed to excess sugar, food particles, and bacteria. This can cause a variety of dental problems including tooth decay, infection, and gingivitis. It can also cause difficulty eating, chewing, swallowing, tasting, and even speaking.
The Causes of Dry Mouth
Dry mouth could be caused by many factors. However, the direct cause is a result of a lack of saliva. When the salivary glands are not producing enough saliva, the mouth becomes dry. So why do the salivary glands stop working properly? Well, some medicines can cause the glands to make less saliva. Many high blood pressure and depression medications can cause dry mouth.
Certain diseases could also be linked to dry mouth. Sjogren’s syndrome, HIV/AIDS, and diabetes can trigger symptoms of dry mouth. Cancer patients may also experience chronic dry mouth due to radiation or chemotherapy. These therapies can damage salivary glands.
So how do you know if you have chronic dry mouth? If you experience the following symptoms on a daily basis, you should contact your cosmetic dentist or physician to inquire about treatments.
These symptoms include:
- Dry feeling in the mouth or throat
- Problems chewing, swallowing, tasting
- Speech impairment
- Cracked lips
- Burning in the mouth
- Mouth infection
- Mouth sores
- Dry tongue
- Bad breath
Treating dry mouth usually depends on diagnosing and addressing the cause of the condition. Patients should set up an appointment with a dentist or physician. For instance, a dentist may recommend a different medication if that is the source of the problem. If a cause cannot be identified, patients should use special mouthwashes to relieve the effects of dry mouth and keep the mouth wet. Patients should drink water often and avoid sugary drinks. Using a humidifier can also bring relief for patients.
If dry mouth persists and a patient is suffering from tooth decay, there are some restorative dentistry solutions available including, dental crowns, dental bridges, and fillings.
The Charleston Center for Cosmetic & Restorative Dentistry is dedicated to solving your dental woes and keeping your teeth healthy. If you’d like to find out more information on dry mouth and how we can help you, contact us today!