What is Dry Mouth and How to Treat It?
Xerostomia is the medical term for dry mouth. A dry mouth is a condition in which the salivary glands are not functioning properly, leading to less saliva in the mouth. A dry mouth can be temporary or long-term, depending on the cause. While short-term dry mouth symptoms are usually not a cause for concern, long-term dry mouth symptoms can be disruptive to everyday life and may lead to gum disease and tooth decay. Saliva acts as a natural cleanser for the teeth and gums. Without adequate saliva, dental issues may occur.
Causes of Dry Mouth
- Ageing (there is a higher risk of dry mouth with age)
- Certain medications (such as for high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, antihistamines, decongestants and pain medication)
- Certain autoimmune medical conditions (such as Sjogren’s syndrome, lupus, Eaton-Lambert syndrome and HIV)
- Bone marrow transplant patients
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Radiation treatment near the head and neck can permanently or temporarily damage the salivary glands.
- Lifestyle choices (such as smoking, drinking alcohol and recreational drug use)
Symptoms of Dry Mouth
- Dry, sticky feeling in the mouth
- Thick and stringy saliva
- Bad breath
- Sore throat
- Difficulty speaking, chewing or swallowing
- Weakened sense of taste
- Cracked tongue
- A feeling of always being thirsty
Solution for Dry Mouth
Sometimes it is not possible to prevent dry mouth. Prevention will be much more challenging if the cause is due to medical conditions, medications, radiation therapy, and ageing.
A dry mouth may be permanent or temporary, depending on the cause. It is essential to use a salivary substitute or artificial saliva when experiencing dry mouth to relieve the symptoms and prevent gum problems and cavities. Salivary substitutes help by adding artificial saliva to aid with comfort, chewing, speaking and swallowing. Salivary substitutes or artificial saliva come in the form of oral sprays, lozenges, gum and mouthwash.
See your dentist when you notice prolonged dry mouth symptoms to assess the cause and health of the teeth and gums. It is beneficial to visit your dentist more frequently while experiencing dry mouth symptoms to monitor your oral health and take preventive measures regularly. Ignoring dry mouth symptoms can lead to costly dental treatment in the long term.
If you are experiencing dry mouth symptoms that do not go away or resolve after a day or two, or if you have any questions about dry mouth, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule an appointment.