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How does dry mouth affect your smile?

Dry mouth is medically known as Xerostomia.  Having Xerostomia can be perfectly normal every once in a while. Though the name doesn’t sound casual and common, it is. Xerostomia is defined as dry mouth resulting from reduced or absent saliva flow. Maybe it happens when you are nervous, upset, stressed or plain old thirsty. So what? Who cares? No big deal. Well, if you are dealing with a dry mouth on a consistent basis, you should take it seriously and find a solution to the problem.

Dry mouth and your oral health

Decreased saliva can make speaking, chewing, and swallowing more difficult. Saliva reduces the amount of cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth and helps prevent tooth decay. It also keeps oral tissue healthy. Without saliva, your teeth will decay faster, and you will be more likely to lose teeth. If you have a persistent dry mouth, you may also be at greater risk for fungal or viral infections in your mouth. These ulcerations may also develop from trauma caused by friction of oral tissues against denture clasps, appliances or edges of worn or defective dental restorations.

Signs and symptoms of dry mouth

  • Increased need to sip or drink fluids or excessive thirst
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Burning or sore sensation in the mouth
  • Diminished or altered sense of taste
  • Increased susceptibility to oral infections
  • Sleep interruptions due to thirst
  • Tooth decay
  • Gingivitis
  • Stale or bad breath

Causes of dry mouth

If you take a prescription medication every day, you might be suffering from dry mouth a side effect. Medication is the number one cause of dry mouth. For example, sinus medications inhibit salivary gland production, thus causing dry mouth. So while you’re downing Benadryl or Claritin like your life depends on it to put an end to that stuffy or runny nose, you might be stopping saliva from cultivating and lubricating your mouth. Ugh. Seems like you just can’t win… But you can!

Treatment for dry mouth

In less severe cases, there are a number of things you can do on your own to treat your dry mouth. As mentioned earlier, sipping water or chewing on sugar-free gum can help stimulate the production of saliva. You may also find over-the-counter saliva substitutes at your local pharmacy. Other at home treatments include:

  • Sip room-temperature water throughout the day and night and carry a water bottle with you at all times.
  • Avoid drinking lots of water at an extreme temperature (very hot or very cold).
  • Only drink sugarless drinks and avoid carbonated beverages.
  • Include a beverage like water during meals. Drink water before, during and after the meal.
  • Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless candy to stimulate salivary flow.
  • Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol. Both alcoholic beverages and smoking dry out the mouth and make you more susceptible to gum diseases and oral cancer.
  • Select an alcohol-free mouth rinse if you’re in the habit of using a mouthwash. Read the label and make sure alcohol is not listed as an ingredient.
  • Try using a nighttime humidifier to moisten room air.

Dr. Chauvin will examine your smile and review your medical history, including any medications that you’re currently taking. He’ll discuss the cause of dry mouth, which is impaired function of the salivary glands. This impairment can result from a variety of factors. 

For more information about treating dry mouth and other dental care issues, be sure to contact Dr. Chavin in Lafayette today. We look forward to your visit and helping you achieve excellent dental health.