Dry mouth (or xerostomia, as we dentists call it) is a condition in which your salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva. Xerostomia isn’t a disease in itself, but can be the symptom of a medical condition, a side effect of head and neck radiation in patients undergoing cancer treatment, or (more commonly) a side effect of different types of medications. Although dry mouth may not sound like a serious condition, it can cause a lot of discomfort, and lead to bigger problems with your dental and overall health.
Dangers of Dry Mouth:
Saliva plays an important role in your dental health by neutralizing acids produced by bacteria, controlling bacterial growth in your mouth (yuck), and washing away food particles. It also makes it easier to chew, taste food, and digest meals. Without enough saliva being produced, there’s increased risk for tooth decay (cavities) and other mouth and gum problems!
Causes of Dry Mouth:
- Medications—Dry mouth is a common side effect of many medications, including over-the-counter drugs. Chemotherapy drugs can also change the amount of saliva being produced.
- Tobacco, Alcohol, or Other Drug Use—Drinking alcohol, and smoking tobacco or marijuana, can all increase dry mouth symptoms.
- Age—Dry mouth can develop with age, due to changes in the body’s response to medications, poor nutrition, or a long-term health problem.
- Other Health Conditions—A number of health conditions could be the cause of your dry mouth. These conditions can include diabetes, anemia, cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, or another autoimmune disease, such as HIV/AIDS.
- Snoring—Continuous snoring and breathing through the mouth can contribute to dry mouth symptoms. Snoring can be treated using a snore guard.
What You Can Do About Dry Mouth:
Once you have determined the cause of your dry mouth, you and your health care provider can determine the best way to correct it!
This may include:
- Changing your medication or adjusting the dosage (according to your doctor’s recommendations)
- Using products to moisturize the mouth, such as mouth rinses or other lubricants (ask Dr. Schultz for her recommendations, we have great all-natural products that we LOVE!)
- Drinking water frequently to keep the mouth well-lubricated
- Using other medications to stimulate saliva (in severe cases)
If you are dealing with dry mouth, don’t go it alone! Schultz Family Dental can help! Contact our office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Schultz to help get your dry mouth under control. We want you to be comfortable and cavity-free!