Saliva plays an essential part in our mouth – we all need saliva to dampen, wash our mouths and digest our food correctly. In addition, saliva helps prevent infection in our mouth by controlling bacteria and fungi.
If adequate saliva isn’t produced, your mouth will get dry, and you will feel uncomfortable (dry and rough). Dry mouth is also known as xerostomia, and there are many treatments to overcome this. Consult your dentist in Sacramento, CA today.
What Are The Leading Causes Of Dry Mouth?
There are several reasons for dry mouth. The most common ones include:
If you’re on specific medications that are strong, these will cause your mouth to dry up. It is one of the most common side effects of prescription and nonprescription drugs. These drugs can be anything from anxiety pills to acne medicines.
Diseases and infections:
Dry mouth can be a side effect if you have certain medical conditions like diabetes or an illness such as mumps in your body.
This is a common problem found in older people. It may be due to many factors such as a change in medications, the body’s ability to process medicines, insufficient nutrition, and other medical problems.
Heavy dose treatments done to cure medical conditions can cause damage to your salivary glands. These treatments can be radiation from the head down to the neck to cure cancer or chemotherapy for cancer patients. It can reduce the amount of saliva that is produced in your mouth.
Suppose you’ve been in an accident or hurt your head or neck from an injury or surgery. In that case, there are higher chances that your salivary glands will not produce the adequate amount of saliva you need.
If you’ve been having constant vomiting, diarrhea, fever, blood loss, burns, or if you have been working out and sweating a lot, all these conditions can lead to dehydration and eventually a dry mouth.
If you have got your salivary glands removed, you are stuck with a dry mouth for any reason.
If you’re a chain smoker or someone addicted to chewing tobacco, this can affect the amount of saliva you make.
If you breathe with your mouth open, this can create problems and eventually result in a dry mouth.
What Are The Common Symptoms Of Dry Mouth?
There are many ways that you can identify a dry mouth. The most common symptoms are:
- Feeling thirst all the time
- A sticky and dry feeling in your mouth
- Blisters or sores in the mouth
- Sores or split skin at the end of the mouth
- Cracked lips
- Dry and rough feeling in your throat
- A boiling or stinging sensation in your mouth; especially in the areas near the tongue
- A dry and red tongue
- Inability to speak properly
- Loss of taste and smell
- Bad breath
- More frequent gum disease
- Tooth decay and plaque
- Tongue ulcers
- Fungal infections in the mouth
- A painful tongue
If you are suffering from the symptoms mentioned above, it is advised to consult your dentist in Sacramento, CA. They will guide you better on what to do considering your case.
When you go for a diagnosis, your doctor or dentist will examine your mouth and your medical history. Depending on that, they can tell you to get your imaging scans of salivary glands and blood tests.
There are three ways of analysis:
This procedure is done to gauge saliva flow rate where collection devices are placed over duct orifices of the saliva glands, and saliva production is stimulated with citric acid.
This is a radiographic examination of the salivary glands and ducts. It may help identify salivary gland stones and masses.
This is often used in the diagnosis of Sjogren’s syndrome. A small sample of salivary gland tissue is taken. If cancer is suspected, your doctor could order a biopsy.
Why Is Dry Mouth A Major Concern?
Dry mouth causes many issues, as mentioned above, but the most severe ones are:
- It increases the risk of gingivitis (gum disease)
- You become at a higher risk of getting a tooth decay
- It opens up the path to all kinds of mouth infections such as thrush
- It also makes it hard for you to wear dentures
Gum disease is a common complication of dry mouth. A bacterial infection causes it from plaque and tartar buildup at the gums. Gum disease is dangerous to your overall oral health as it generates higher chances of tooth decay.
Dry mouth leads to harmful acids, plaque, and food remnants on your teeth, eventually leading to tooth decay.
Increased acids on the teeth result in enamel erosion which is the protective layer of the teeth. Once the enamel starts to erode, the teeth are left vulnerable to all kinds of infections.
Dry mouth increases the risk of dental staining and discoloration due to enamel erosion and increased plaque and food debris levels on the teeth.
How Can You Treat Dry Mouth?
Treatment for dry mouth depends on what the problem and symptoms are. The generic treatments focus on three main areas such as:
- Increasing the flow of saliva (if there are changes)
- Managing other medical conditions
- Preventing tooth decay (if possible)
Suppose there is an underlying condition or disease found. The patient is taking medications that may be causing dry mouth. In that case, steps need to be taken to minimize the effect.
If dry mouth is a result of heavy medications, then your dentist in Sacramento, CA, will either alter the dosage or prescribe a drug that is less likely to cause dry mouth.
Encouraging saliva production:
Your dentist can give you medicines to increase the production of saliva. These can be cevimeline (Evoxac) or pilocarpine (Salagen).’
Dry mouth products:
These products contain ingredients such as lubricants that may help treat your dry mouth. The products that come in this range are toothpaste, mouthwash, gums, and topical gels. Get in touch with your dentist for more information.
Products that contain high fluoride or calcium are recommended to help prevent tooth decay.
Antibiotics and antifungal drugs:
These are used to treat any infections that are causing dry mouth.
Salivary gland blockages such as stones are commonly treated with surgery.
Severe conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome or diabetes need appropriate medical treatment.
If you have a dry mouth, you should pay special attention to your oral/dental hygiene. If there are any signs of inflammation, gingival infections, or plaque, they must be addressed before they become a problem. It’s essential to brush your teeth twice a day and to floss regularly.
At-Home Tips For Dry Mouth
A dry mouth is an impermanent and curable condition. In most cases, you can prevent and relieve symptoms of dry mouth at home by doing one or more of the following at-home tips:
- Drink lots of water as it will help keep your mouth moist and loosen mucus. Keep a bottle of water with you at all times.
- Drinking non-carbonated, sugar-free drinks triggers frequent urination causing water loss.
- Using a carboxymethyl cellulose saliva substitute as a mouthwash. Avoid commercial mouthwashes that contain alcohol or peroxide. These ingredients tend to dry out further the mouth, different foods such as carrots or celery.
- Don’t wear dentures to sleep.
- Suck on ice cubes. Don’t chew, as it can damage your teeth. Sucking ice will help stimulate saliva flow.
- Say goodbye to alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco.
- Don’t overdo your salt and sugar, as this will soften your teeth and cause tooth decay.
- Breathing through the nose, not your mouth, as much as possible.
- A humidifier will help add more moisture to bedroom air.
- Avoid salty and sugary foods.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to be as gentle as you can.
- Use a moisturizer on your lips.
- Chew sugarless gum.
- Make use of over-the-counter mints, rinses, toothpaste.
- Consume over-the-counter saliva substitutes.
- Eat chewy foods to stimulate the flow of saliva.
By avoiding these, you will ease the irritation in your mouth:
- Excessively hot or cold drinks
- Dry foods
- Acidic foods
- Spicy foods
- Sugary drinks
If an underlying health condition causes your dry mouth, you may require additional treatment. Consult your doctor your dentist in Sacramento, CA, for more information about your specific situation, treatment options.
Boost The Flow Of Saliva With Dry Mouth
Your dentist will prescribe you an oral rinse to restore your mouth moisture if you have a dry mouth. These products are available over the counter in a rinse or spray. There are many kinds of toothpaste, mouthwashes, and moisturizing gels just for dry mouth that will provide you relief.
If these don’t help you, the doctor may prescribe you a particular medicine that helps boost saliva production called Salagen. This, along with Evoxac, is FDA-approved to treat dry mouth in people with Sjogren’s syndrome – an autoimmune disease that causes dry eyes, dry mouth, dry skin, and muscle pain.
Stop Your Dry Mouth In Causing Tooth Decay
Saliva makes it easy for you to digest your food and helps you chew and swallow your food. It is a natural mouth cleanser, one without which you are more prone to tooth decay and gum disease. If you have a dry mouth, you must be extra careful about maintaining good oral hygiene.
- Brushing your teeth at least twice a day.
- Flossing your teeth every day.
- Using a toothpaste that contains fluoride.
- Visiting your dentist for a checkup and getting your teeth cleaned at least twice a year.
Whether or not you have a dry mouth, it is vital to maintain a healthy diet and take good care of your teeth by brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist monthly. This will not only keep dry mouth symptoms at bay but promote your overall well-being.
When To See A Doctor?
Consult your doctor or dentist if you notice any of these symptoms of dry mouth. These signs include:
- Constant dry feeling in your mouth or throat
- Thick saliva
- Rough tongue
- Cracked lips
- Immense trouble chewing or swallowing
- Altered sense of taste
- Persistent bad breath and getting worse by the day
If you are on medications and you think they are causing them or any other significant symptoms of underlying conditions, make an appointment with your dentist in Sacramento, CA.
Besides causing discomfort, dry mouth increases your chances of developing dental issues such as tooth decay and gum disease. Since it has a variety of causes, your dentist will help you identify the exact trigger. Their expert diagnosis includes an in-depth dental exam evaluation of your medical history and lifestyle choices.
You can choose to take care of dry mouth at home. If symptoms continue, though, talk to your doctor. Then you can check for any underlying conditions or change medication that might be causing your symptoms. If you have a dry mouth, make sure to take good care of your teeth by brushing, flossing, and seeing your dentist regularly.