What is Xerostomia or Dry Mouth?
Xerostomia or dry mouth is a condition where insufficient saliva is produced to keep the mouth clean, moist and comfortable. Saliva is vital for good oral health because it helps to maintain a neutral pH, washes away old skin cells and loose food particles, and it helps you to chew and swallow food. Without sufficient saliva, the risk of tooth decay and gum disease increases. Unfortunately, some medical conditions, as well as over-the-counter and prescription medicines, can reduce saliva flow.
What Causes Dry Mouth
Dry mouth is an uncomfortable condition caused by a lack of saliva. Unfortunately, it can increase your risk of developing gum disease and tooth decay because saliva is essential for keeping your mouth healthy and clean. There are a number of reasons why you may develop dry mouth and which include:
- Taking certain prescription and non-prescription drugs
- As a side-effect of illnesses including diabetes, Parkinson’s and Sjögren’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis and hypertension
- As a side-effect of radiation or chemotherapy treatment for head and neck cancers
- Having a head injury or other trauma that has damaged your salivary glands or the nerves in your head and neck area
- Smoking or using other tobacco products, or mouth breathing
Typical symptoms of dry mouth include frequently feeling thirsty, or having a sticky and dry feeling in your mouth, having problems with speaking and with chewing and swallowing foods, and persistent bad breath.
How Apple Dental Can Help
If you think you may have dry mouth, come to see our dentist here at Apple Dental. We can help to determine the cause of your dry mouth. Our dentist can prescribe an oral rinse or artificial saliva to help you feel more comfortable and we will talk to you about how to reduce your risk of dental disease. If we think the problem is due to prescription medications, we may suggest you visit your GP to find out if they can help with this problem. Ensuring you drink plenty of water and sucking sugar-free sweets or chewing sugar-free gum can help stimulate saliva production.
Our dental team will work with you to minimise your risk of dental problems while maintaining optimal dental health. Useful strategies include additional hygiene appointments as regularly removing plaque reduces the risk of dental disease. We can prescribe artificial saliva to help you feel more comfortable and can discuss self-help strategies. For example, chewing sugar-free gum or sucking sugar-free sweets can help to stimulate saliva flow. Keeping well-hydrated, and avoiding spicy or acidic or astringent foods may be beneficial. A humidifier in your bedroom will help reduce the effects of xerostomia during sleep when the mouth is naturally drier.
If you have xerostomia, please contact us so we can help you feel more comfortable while protecting your smile.