Dry mouth is a common issue affecting millions of Americans. It may not sound like a big deal, but saliva is necessary to moisten and cleanse our mouths, fight infection and digest food. Without it we can actually cause damage to our teeth.
Xerostomia, or dry mouth, is caused more often than not by certain medications. The treatment of everything from depression to allergies, nausea to asthma, can cause side effects that result in a reduction of the amount of saliva in our mouths.
Side effects of diseases like diabetes, anemia and rheumatoid arthritis can also include dry mouth. Medical treatments such as radiation to the head and neck can cause damage to the salivary glands.
Even issues like smoking and dehydration from fever can seriously reduce the production of saliva.
If you take medications that leave you parched, smoke regularly or suffer from any other issue described, first and foremost drink more water. There are other treatments available but nothing beats a tall glass of water. Then, make an appointment with Dr. Matthews. He can determine the proper treatment based on the cause of your dry mouth.
Why is Dry Mouth Important?
There are a number of symptoms associated with dry mouth that range from the benign annoyances to more severe complications. Dry mouth can cause sores to develop or split skin at the corners of the mouth. Cracked lips, dry throat and bad breath are just a few of the more superficial symptoms.
Besides feeling generally uncomfortable, dry mouth can actually increase the risk of developing more serious issues like gingivitis (gum disease) and tooth decay.
Thrush, a mouth infection caused by yeast, or candida fungus, can also develop. Small amounts of yeast are always present in the body and kept in balance by other bacteria. Without proper saliva function the yeast can grow out of control, causing thrush.
Treatments for Dry Mouth
Dr. Matthews can help determine which treatment option is right for you. If you require an oral rinse to restore mouth moisture, Biotene is commonly recommended.
Medications that stimulate saliva production, called Salagen, are used to treat dry mouth symptoms caused by certain immune diseases such as Sjogren’s syndrome or from saliva gland damage due to radiation treatments for cancer.
Other remedies include sucking on sugar-free candy, brushing with a fluoride toothpaste and using a vaporizer. Try breathing through your nose as much as possible (not your mouth) and of course, drink more water. Drinking more water is probably the best thing you can do to combat dry mouth.
Come in and see Dr. Matthews if you think dry mouth is affecting your quality of life. It’s important to keep dry mouth in check before the damage becomes more severe.