Dry mouth is a common condition seen at the Dental Associates of Delaware offices, and is caused by a diminished production of saliva. The medical term for dry mouth is xerostomia. Everyone experiences dry mouth on occasion and is most likely to happen when you’re feeling nervous or while under stress. However, dry mouth that is long lasting becomes a real problem as it can interfere with your life and lead to the development of cavities and gum disease.
There are several causes of dry mouth, which include:
- Medications – Dry mouth is a common side effect of many medications, including those used to treat depression, anxiety, pain, epilepsy, allergies, and colds. People who take certain muscle relaxants and sedatives also may experience dry mouth symptoms.
- Diseases or Infection – Certain medical conditions, including HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, stroke, and mumps can cause recurring dry mouth. Cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy often complain of dry mouth, as do those who are receiving radiation treatment to the head or neck.
- Nerve Damage – Dry mouth may also result from nerve damage to the neck or head from an injury or surgery, and general dehydration caused by fever, excessive sweating, diarrhea, vomiting, or burns. People who smoke or chew tobacco are at high risk of developing chronic dry mouth, as are those who primarily breathe through their mouths.
Treating Dry Mouth
If you believe that medication may be causing your dry mouth, speak to your doctor about adjusting your dose or switching you to another medication. Your doctor may also prescribe an oral rinse that’s designed to restore moisture to the mouth. If that does not work, there are saliva-producing medications available that your doctor may prescribe.
What You Can Do at Home
There are some things you can do that will help you produce more saliva and alleviate dry mouth symptoms. For instance, sucking on sugar-free candy or chewing sugar-free gum may help. By making it a habit to drink plenty of water each day, you should see an improvement in your dry mouth. Consider using a room vaporizer or home humidifier to help add moisture to the air you breathe. Finally, there are over-the-counter artificial saliva substitutes for sale at all drug stores, which are designed to help alleviate dry mouth.
To our patients who are currently using other over the counter products like Oasis and Biotene, Dental Associates of Delaware would also like to recommend MedActive’s Oral Relief Spray. Please ask about it at your next hygiene appointment for your complimentary sample. We have had very good reviews of this product and hope that it can bring more relief to our patients who have dry mouth.
Avoiding alcohol and beverages containing caffeine can also help reduce the problem of dry mouth. If you use tobacco products, consider this yet another reason to kick the habit, as smoking and chewing tobacco dry out the mouth and cause bad breath.
Benefits of Saliva
Saliva is your mouth’s most important natural defense against tooth decay as it helps rinse away cavity-causing bacteria that live in your mouth. If these bacteria are not rinsed away by saliva, they cause plaque to build up on the surface of the teeth, which weakens the teeth, leading to decay and cavities. Your saliva contains important elements such as calcium, bicarbonate, and phosphate, which help neutralize the acids found in plaque.
It’s important to avoid sugary and acidic foods, as well as candies, as they increase the risk of tooth decay. Be sure to brush your teeth using fluoride toothpaste, and rinse your mouth once daily (before bedtime) using a fluoride mouth rinse. You should also floss your teeth daily to prevent plaque build-up. Visit your dentist every six months so that tooth decay and other dental problems can be detected and treated right away.
If you have any questions about dry mouth, contact one of our Delaware dental offices, as we are always available to speak with you. Our dental offices in Brandywine, Hockessin, Middletown, Newark, Wilmington, and Millsboro, DE provide our patients with a single comprehensive resource for all of their dental needs.