People who have only suffered from dry mouth or xerostomia once find it annoying. However, if you suffer from chronic dry mouth, it can cause more serious problems, such as severe tooth decay. If you are a victim of xerostomia, check out these three FAQs about dry mouth, so you can know how to fight it.
What Causes Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth occurs when there is reduced saliva in your mouth because your saliva glands are not producing enough fluid. Sometimes, you may experience a random bout of dry mouth if you become extremely nervous or stressed. However, if that is the case, it typically goes away when you are no longer nervous or stressed. Many patients suffer chronic dry mouth that won’t go away.
A common culprit of xerostomia is certain medications. There are over 400 medications that have dry mouth as a side effect. If you take one or more of these, you may experience chronic xerostomia. In women, dry mouth can become a problem as they near menopause. The hormonal changes can reduce salivary flow. Another possible cause is Sjogren’s syndrome. This condition is an autoimmune disease. The patient’s white blood cells attack glands that produce moisture, such as salivary glands. If you have Sjogren’s syndrome, you may also have dry eyes, fatigue and joint pain.
Does it Cause Oral Problems?
If you experience momentary dry mouth from nervousness, it can be annoying. It makes it hard to talk and swallow. When it’s over, there are no lasting effects. However, if you suffer from chronic xerostomia, it causes more than just mild annoyance as it can cause many oral problems and affect your overall dental health.
The saliva in your mouth plays an important role in keeping your mouth clean. While it isn’t enough alone to remove all the plaque in your mouth, it does help keep plaque and bacteria in check. So even if you brush and floss regularly, xerostomia may allow bacteria to grow and attack your teeth between brushing, increasing your chance of decay. Other symptoms of xerostomia include a burning feeling, a dry tongue, gum irritation, mouth sores and bad breath.
How Can it Be Treated?
The problem with medication-induced xerostomia is that you can’t really stop taking your medication. Talk with your doctor to see if there is another medication you can take that doesn’t cause dry mouth. Your dentist or doctor may also be able to prescribe a medication that can increase saliva flow. Your dentist may also be able to provide you with recommendations on oral care products that can moisturize your mouth.
There are also some steps you can do to prevent dry mouth. Sipping water and sugarless drinks helps keep your mouth wet, mimicking saliva flow. Sugarless gum and sugarless hard candies can also help to increase saliva flow. Just make sure you avoid coffee, tea, sugary/acidic foods and beverages and tobacco.
Xerostomia isn’t just annoying. It’s a serious oral problem that needs to be addressed, so it doesn’t cause tooth decay. If you would like to know more about dry mouth, or if you suffer from dry mouth and need help, contact Landmark Dental Group today.