|November 2018 Dental Newsletter|
Dry Mouth and Dental Health
What can cause dry mouth?
Dry mouth, also called xerostomia, is lack of saliva that causes a dry, sticky feeling in the mouth and throat. Some people only experience this feeling with a nervous gulp once in a while, but a chronic dry mouth is detrimental to your health in a number of ways. The chronic dry mouth can be a result of several things. Dry mouth is a side effect of many prescription medications and is experienced by patients undergoing chemotherapy. Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that affects the salivary glands, and smoking also contributes to dry mouth. If someone begins to experience dry mouth, it is important to address the issue to keep your mouth and your whole body healthy.
Why is dry mouth bad for my health?
Feeling dryness in your mouth may seem very minor in terms of a medical issue, but saliva works harder for your body than you realize. Saliva is essential for digestion because it provides lubrication for chewing and swallowing and starts to break down the food. Another important function of saliva is to neutralize acids and cleanse teeth, preventing gum disease and tooth decay. Without the lubrication provided by saliva, the mouth is prone to sores and infections. For all the complications dry mouth can cause, making the decision to simply be proactive against it can save you from a lot of health issues.
How can I prevent dry mouth?
Whatever is causing dry mouth, you can remedy the issue either by stimulating the mouth’s saliva production or hydrating the mouth using a drink. Sipping water regularly is a simple thing with so many health benefits, and is also helpful to do while eating to aid digestion. Using ice chips or sugar-free hard candy to suck on is a way to stimulate the salivary glands to produce more moisture. Drinks that contain caffeine can be dehydrating, so avoiding coffee and soda will help keep your mouth moist. If xerostomia is a side effect of your prescription medication, talk to your prescribing doctor about adjusting dosages or changing medications. If you smoke, dry mouth is just one of many problems it causes and quitting starts to benefit your health immediately. Most smokers cannot quit on their first try or without help, so don’t get discouraged. Keeping up with a brushing and flossing regimen is always important, and you can try specially formulated toothpaste or hydrating rinse for dry mouth.