If you’ve ever had trouble speaking, swallowing, or chewing because of a lack of saliva in the mouth, you know how uncomfortable that can be. If it happens only occasionally, you likely don’t need to be too concerned. But, if it’s developing into a chronic condition, you are definitely going to want to see your doctor or dentist for diagnostic testing to rule out certain medical conditions and find help for this problem.
Xerostomia, the medical term for dry mouth, means there is a constant lack of moisture via saliva, in the mouth. Not only can this lead to chronic bad breath, but it can also make gum disease worse and can lead to increased cavities. Since saliva has antiseptic and cleansing properties, it works by keeping everything functioning the way it should.
Saliva washes away harmful acids produced by oral bacteria. It also neutralizes the acid while clearing out some of the oral debris from food particles and dead cells that build up on your tongue, cheeks and gums. It helps prevent sores in the mouth, thrush (an oral yeast infection), cracked lips, getting sores or split skin on the corners of the mouth. It also breaks down your food, without it you can have trouble chewing, swallowing, and digesting your food.
If you’re wondering what causes dry mouth, it can be a variety of factors. The most common reasons for dry mouth include medications you might be taking, undergoing stress, having a tobacco habit, getting treatment for cancer, like chemotherapy or radiation, and having an autoimmune disorder.
So, what can you do if you are troubled by chronic dry mouth?
-If the problem is dehydration, you can start by staying better hydrated. Drinking or sipping plenty of water throughout the day can make all the difference for your oral health as well as your overall health and wellbeing.
-If you are a regular smoker, do consider stopping, and you can find help using a smoking cessation program.
-Avoid excessive alcohol intake and avoid or limit caffeine-containing drinks like tea and coffee. Herbal teas and decaffeinated water should be fine.
-Step up your daily oral hygiene care to help keep the mouth free from bacteria. This means brushing and flossing every day, and our dentists may even prescribe dental products that can help you alleviate this condition.
-Chewing sugar-free gum can help stimulate saliva production as it keeps the salivary glands active.
-If your medications are the culprit, your doctor may be able to alter the dosage or switch you to a different one.
-If you wake up with dry mouth, sleeping with a humidifier can help keep you moisturized.
If you need help with your dry mouth condition, our Hill Family Dental team is here to help. Drs. Jared Hill and Jerel Hill are conveniently located in Orem, Utah, and look forward to helping you with your oral health needs. Just call 801-225-7110 today to book your appointment!