Understanding Dry Mouth

The saliva your mouth produces is more important than most people realize. Aside from helping you eat and digest foods, it protects against bacteria and fungi and helps to keep teeth clean. For some people, saliva glands can’t function properly, leading to a condition called xerostomia, commonly known as “dry mouth.”

Symptoms

The most obvious symptoms of dry mouth are a constant thirst accompanied by a dry, sticky sensation. Sufferers can develop mouth sores and cracked lips as well as a dry tongue. They can also experience issues with talking and swallowing, and they frequently lose their ability to taste.

Causes

Many diseases are linked with the development of dry mouth. Those diagnosed with the following conditions often find this as one of the many complications they contend with:

  • Diabetes
  • Parkinson’s
  • Stroke
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Anaemia

Also, it can appear as a side effect of a range of medications. Dry mouth has been linked with the use of treatments for health issues such as:

  • Asthma
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Depression
  • Allergies
  • Acne
  • Epilepsy

Medical treatments that can damage saliva glands also often lead to xerostomia. This isn’t uncommon for those undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments for cancer.

Nerve damage from surgery or an injury can affect saliva production, and dehydration can trigger xerostomia as well. Those who use tobacco products can also develop problems with saliva glands, and those who breathe through their mouths can make the symptoms more pronounced.

Dry Mouth and Dental Health

Your saliva plays an important role in the health of your teeth. When insufficient amounts are produced, the risk of gingivitis, tooth decay and mouth infections rise significantly. And if you wear dentures, dry mouth can complicate their use.

Treatments for Dry Mouth

Finding a solution to this condition is as varied as its causes. For those who experience it as a side effect, talk to your doctor immediately. A change in a medication’s dosage or an alternative medication could solve the problem quickly. You may be prescribed an oral rinse, or a type of medication that increases the production of saliva. And if you’re a tobacco user, this is just one more reason to find a means to quit its use immediately.

Sometimes simple methods can help boost saliva. When you have solid foods in your mouth, your glands are triggered to produce plenty for digestion, so try either sucking on sugar-free candy or chewing sugar-free gum. You can make an effort to breathe through your nose, which will help keep your mouth from drying out. You can also find over-the-counter saliva substitutes at pharmacies.

Since saliva is so vital to oral health, talk to your dentist if you’re experiencing symptoms of dry mouth. They’ll be able to offer tips and medications that can offset the possibility of damage.

Here at Gateway Dentistry Group, we’re always ready to find solutions for our friends and neighbours throughout the Grande Prairie area. If you have any dental concerns, message us or give us a call. We’re looking forward to helping you build a happy, healthy smile.

587-852-5870