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Dry Mouth and Your Dental Health

Most people, unless you work in the dental field, have never heard the term “xerostomia,” which is not a bad thing. If you’ve never heard it, chances are good you don’t suffer from it. However, if you do suffer from it and haven’t any clue, you might want to call your dentist and have a conversation. It’s the medical term for dry mouth. Dry mouth is a health condition that must be treated immediately if you feel you suffer from it. It means your salivary glands do not work hard enough to keep your mouth as moist as it needs to be, which can have some fairly negative health consequences.

The Causes of Xerostomia

Most people suffer from this problem only periodically. It happens most frequently when you are given medications to help you will illness, and dry mouth is one of the common side effects of the medications you’re being given. Unfortunately, this occurs with both prescription and over-the-counter medications, which can cause a lot of pain and discomfort if you have health problems.

If your health issues are temporary, you will only suffer from dry mouth for a short time. However, if you have long-term health conditions and your doctor prescribes you one of the approximately 400 medications that causes dry mouth, you have an increased risk of suffering from dry mouth for a long time. Common medications such as antihistamines and even diuretics and painkillers are common for causing dry mouth.

Sadly, it’s not just meds that cause this issue, either. there are other situations that might cause your mouth to become dry enough you cannot produce enough saliva. Chemotherapy and radiation for cancer and other diseases can cause dry mouth. Additionally, people who suffer from any of the following might also suffer from dry mouth.

  • Diabetes
  • Lupus
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Stress
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Aging
  • Immune system disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Each of these is a common cause of dry mouth, which means millions of people suffer from this situation all the time. If you’re wondering why it is such a problem to have a dry mouth, we are about to get into that.

Is Dry Mouth Really that Bad?

Yes, it is. It might sound like a situation that’s more annoying and inconvenient that anything else, but it’s a real health concern for those who suffer long-term. Saliva, when it is not produced in adequate quantities, can affect your entire life. The most important benefit of saliva is that it is a natural way to defend your oral health. Since your oral health is directly related to your overall health, you need saliva to help your mouth stay as healthy as possible – so that your body can stay as healthy as possible.

Saliva helps to wash away the bacteria in your mouth in between brushing and flossing. This helps to prevent tooth decay, which causes cavities, which cause additional health problems such as gum disease. The saliva we produce is filled with helpful compounds such as electrolytes and antibacterial compounds as well as enzymes our bodies need to protect ourselves from disease. Additionally, these enzymes help our bodies digest the food we eat, so not producing enough saliva can become a monumental problem in other ways, too.

Are There Signs of Dry Mouth?

Aside from the actual dry mouth portion where you feel as if you have to drink or swallow more frequently to keep your mouth moist, there is a long list of additional symptoms that might indicate you are suffering from dry mouth.

  • Speaking difficulties
  • Problems swallowing
  • Sore mouth
  • Burning sensation in the mouth
  • Eating certain foods becomes problematic
  • Taste buds change significantly
  • Increase oral infection problems
  • Poor sleep
  • It’s difficult to wear your dentures if you have them
  • Gingivitis
  • Tooth decay
  • Bad breath

If you notice any of these, you want to speak to your dentist about it. Remember, it’s entirely possible to suffer from one or more of these health concerns without actually suffering from dry mouth. However, it’s not reasonable to ignore any symptoms if you have them. Call our offices to schedule an appoint to discuss your health concerns with one of our dental professionals so that we can help you get to the bottom of the issues you’re living with.

Treating Dry Mouth

Your dentist is able to help you if you suffer from dry mouth, though your physician might have to make the ultimate change to your treatment plan. One of the most common ways to treat this health concern is to speak to your doctor about the medications you are taking. If you suspect that you are taking a medication that causes your dry mouth, it is imperative you discuss this with your dental professional and then your doctor to see if there is an alternative form of medication that might not have the same effects on your mouth. Your doctor may be able to change your prescription to help you alleviate these symptoms.

Your dentist can also recommend products to moisturize your mouth to help keep the saliva flowing. Some are easily located over the counter in a drug store or pharmacy, and some are prescribed only by a medical professional. This is why it’s imperative to speak with your dentist.

The most important things, however, is to protect your teeth if you suffer from dry mount. We want to help you keep your mouth as healthy as possible if you do suffer from this, and we need to know if you have dry mouth. We can fit you for fluoride tray or even a weekly rinse to control cavities that might become a problem in your life if you must live with dry mouth.

If you are worried you have a problem with your saliva production, call our offices right away to schedule an appointment with one of our dental professionals. We can help you protect your teeth and seek the right treatment for the issue. We are here to help.