Everyone experiences dry mouth. Temporary mouth dryness is caused by stress, dehydration or a normal reduction in saliva production at night. However, if you are experiencing persistent dry mouth, you may be suffering from xerostomia.
What is Xerostomia?
Xerostomia happens when your salivary glands aren’t working properly. A lack of saliva can lead to several health problems. First, it can be too difficult to eat with a dry mouth – chewing, swallowing, and tasting can also be affected. In turn, this will compromise your nutrition.
Moreover, a dry mouth can lead to tooth decay. Remember that saliva plays a crucial role in preventing the proliferation of decay-causing bacteria as well as in neutralizing the acids that these bacteria produce.
Causes of Dry Mouth
A reputable Sterling Heights Dentist Dr. Farhat shares some of the possible causes of dry mouth.
There are several systemic diseases that can cause your mouth to dry up. These include diabetes, Sjögren’s syndrome, cystic fibrosis, AIDS, and Parkinson’s disease.
Medications are the common culprit of dry mouth. There are over 500 medications that have this side effect. These include antidepressants, diuretics, chemotherapy drugs, and antihistamines.
Trauma to the neck or head can damage the nerves that play a role in saliva production.
Radiation to the neck and head can permanently damage your salivary glands. But radiation used to treat cancer in other body parts won’t cause severe mouth dryness.
If medications are the culprit to your mouth dryness, your physician may recommend a substitute or simply adjust the dosage. But if this does not solve the problem, there are other things you can do:
Chew Sugarless Gum
Chewing gum can help stimulate the flow of saliva when your salivary glands aren’t damaged. Choose gums that contain xylitol, a natural sugar substitute that can protect your teeth against decay.
Regularly Sip Fluids
Sipping fluids during meals is very important. Make sure though that what you drink doesn’t have sugar and isn’t acidic. Sugary and acidic beverages like sodas must be avoided because these increase your risk of tooth decay.
Use Saliva Stimulants
There are over-the-counter and prescription products that can stimulate saliva production. Some even act as an oral fluid substitute. Dental One Care can provide you with some recommendations.
Practice Proper Oral Hygiene
Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day because this will help prevent plaque buildup. Also, fluoride can help strengthen your teeth. Floss daily as well.
Schedule Regular Dental Visits
You should maintain regular dental visits, especially if you have dry mouth. Inform your dentist about the medications you are taking. Your dentist can provide you with other ways to relieve your mouth dryness.