Dry mouth or Xerostomia is a condition in which the glands in your mouth don’t make enough saliva to keep your mouth moist. When this condition goes on for an extended period of time, your oral health becomes compromised and you’ll have an increased risk of developing a number of problems like:
- Tooth decay
- Gum disease
- Chapped or cracked lips
- Mouth sores
- Bad breath
- Difficulty swallowing and speaking
- Sore throat
- Decreased or altered taste
- Thick or stringy saliva
- Fungal infections
If you wear dentures, dry mouth can affect the way they fit which can cause them to move around creating irritation and mouth sores.
What Causes Dry Mouth?
Certain medical conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome, diabetes, anemia, nerve damage, and impaired salivary glands can cause dry mouth. Severe dehydration can also cause it!
Side effects of medications antidepressants, blood pressure drugs, muscle relaxants, antihistamines, anti-diarrheals, urinary incontinence drugs, alzheimer’s drugs, Parkinson’s drugs, and chemotherapy can also cause chronic dry mouth.
Lifestyle choices such as drinking alcohol or beverages with caffeine, using tobacco products, recreational drugs, high-salt diet and spicy foods, can contribute to dry mouth. Some dietary supplements can cause dry mouth as well.
Toothpastes and Mouthwashes which are the very tools designed to prevent oral decay could also be the culprit. Toothpaste contains a detergent called sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS, that causes the foaming properties. Clinical studies have demonstrated that SLS is an irritant that also dries tissue and can disrupt healthy cell activity. Many mouthwashes also contain alcohol as their main ingredient. Although alcohol does kill harmful bacteria, it can create the very environment in which they thrive.
What You Can Do For Temporary Relief!
For temporary relief of dry mouth, here are some things you can do:
- Drink water or beverages without alcohol or caffeine
- Suck on ice chips
- Use lanolin-based lip balm
- Stimulate saliva production with sugar-free gum or candy
- Rinse your mouth with an alcohol-free mouthwash
What You Can Do For Long-Term Relief!
Good oral hygiene is key to having a healthy mouth, but it is especially important for those with low or no saliva. Here are some steps to good oral hygiene:
- Brush your teeth, using a brush with soft bristles, twice a day with a toothpaste that contains fluoride
- Floss daily
- Regular visits to the dentist
- Avoid tobacco products
- Avoid beverages with caffeine and alcohol
A visit to San Jose Dentist Dr. Shimizu can be helpful when it comes to diagnosing the causes and subsequent management of dry mouth. His examination and associated questions will help determine a plan of action to establishing and maintaining a healthy mouth, which will be essential for your overall health and well-being.