Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a condition where the salivary glands in your mouth don’t produce enough saliva to keep your mouth wet. This can range from being a minor nuisance to having a major impact on your general health, the health of your teeth and gums, as well as your appetite and enjoyment of food.
Causes of Dry Mouth
Dry mouth can be caused by a variety of factors. One of the most common causes is the side effects of certain medications. These include medications used to treat depression, high blood pressure, and anxiety, as well as some antihistamines, decongestants, muscle relaxants, and pain medications.
Aging is another factor that can cause dry mouth. Many older people experience dry mouth as they age due to the use of certain medications, changes in the body’s ability to process medication, inadequate nutrition, and long-term health problems.
Cancer therapy such as chemotherapy drugs can change the nature of saliva and the amount produced. Radiation treatments to your head and neck can damage salivary glands, causing a marked decrease in saliva production.
Mouth breathing and a lack of hydration are also contributing factors relating to dry mouth.
Symptoms of Dry Mouth
If you’re not producing enough saliva, you may notice these signs and symptoms all or most of the time: Dryness or a feeling of stickiness in your mouth; Saliva that seems thick and stringy; Bad breath; Difficulty chewing, speaking and swallowing; Dry or sore throat and hoarseness; Dry or grooved tongue; A changed sense of taste; Problems wearing dentures.
Treatment for Dry Mouth
Treatment for dry mouth depends on what is causing the problem. Generally, treatment focuses on three areas: Managing other medical conditions; Preventing tooth decay; and Increasing the flow of saliva, if possible.
Self-care steps that may be helpful in some less-serious cases include: Chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free hard lollies to stimulate the flow of saliva; Limiting your caffeine intake; Not using mouthwashes that contain alcohol; Stopping all tobacco use; Sipping water regularly; Trying a mouthwash designed for dry mouth; Avoiding using over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants; Breathing through your nose; Adding moisture to the air at night with a room humidifier.
In addition to these steps, you also can take steps to protect your oral health. Stay away from foods and drinks that have a lot of sugar or those that have a lot of acid, such as carbonated drinks. They raise your risk of tooth decay. Brush with a fluoride toothpaste — speak with us if a prescription fluoride toothpaste may help you. Use a fluoride rinse or brush-on fluoride gel before bedtime.
If these steps do not make your dry mouth better, talk to us. Remember that persistent dry mouth is not just uncomfortable — it’s also not good for your oral health. So don’t ignore it — get it treated.
Call our friendly team at JD Dental Care at (03) 9654 5881 and we can discuss any concerns you may have relating to dry mouth.