Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is an oral condition where your salivary glands are not producing sufficient amounts of saliva needed to help your mouth function properly. Although most patients don’t pay much attention to saliva function, it is a vital component of a healthy smile. It keeps the oral tissues in the mouth moist and comfortable, while controlling bacterial levels in the mouth and helping with the digestion of your food.
Saliva consists mainly of water (which is why hydration is so important), but it also contains various protective elements such as glycoproteins, electrolytes, antimicrobial properties, enzymes, and mucus. Saliva is manufactured in the salivary glands and travels through the salivary glands and into your mouth through tubes known as salivary ducts.
Dry mouth can arise from a variety of condition that interfere with healthy saliva production. Prescription medications you take may list dry mouth as a side effect, as well as over-the-counter medications like antihistamine and decongestants. Certain medical treatments can also cause dry mouth, as well as nerve damage, disease, infections, dehydration and tobacco use.
What are some signs of dry mouth that you should be aware of? Chronic thirst, sores in the mouth, cracked lips, a sore throat, bad breath, having trouble swallowing or a red, dry or raw tongue. Please be aware that if your dry mouth is chronic you are at higher risk for gum disease and tooth decay. In addition, dry mouth can also interfere with denture wear, as they won’t stay in place properly.
The easiest, fastest way to help dry mouth is to increase hydration. It can help to sip water throughout the day to moisten oral tissues. It is important to avoid dehydration through consumption of diuretic beverages, including alcohol, coffee, tea, and caffeinated sodas.
Chewing sugar-free gum and sucking on sugar-free candy helps to stimulate saliva production. If your medications are responsible for your dry mouth, your doctor may alter the dosage or switch to a different medication altogether. Again, avoid using over the counter antihistamines and decongestants which will dry out oral tissues.
After brushing and flossing, use a fluoridated rinse and for sure avoid any alcohol-based mouthwash. Make sure your toothpaste contains fluoride. To help your mouth while you sleep, use a room humidifier while you sleep. And breathe through your nose as much as possible, as breathing through the mouth contributes to dry mouth.
If you have dry mouth, try the above tips and if you still have problems or concerns, come in to see Dr. Ramin Moradi. You can reach our San Tomas Signature Smiles team in Campbell, California at 408-378-2890 today!