Pause for a moment and think about your favorite meal. Does it make you salivate? It’s a natural reaction, and a certain amount of saliva is necessary to keep your mouth clean, help you digest food, and control fungi and bacteria in your mouth, protecting the body from infection. But some people don’t produce enough saliva, which can lead to a condition dentists call xerostomia, or dry mouth. The team at Wahiawa & Pearl Family Dental Care, serving patients on Oahu, HI, is here to discuss the causes of dry mouth and some ways to treat this condition before it wrecks havoc on your dental health.
What Causes Dry Mouth?
The problem begins when the salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva to keep the mouth moist. Dry mouth can occur as a side effect of certain prescription medications, diseases like diabetes, or as a result of chemotherapy, nerve damage, dehydration, and lifestyle choices, like smoking cigarettes.
According to dentists, common symptoms include a dry, sticky mouth, feeling constantly thirsty, a dry throat, raw tongue, problems swallowing, and bad breath. Left untreated, dry mouth can increase your risk of gum disease and cavities and leave you susceptible to mouth infections.
How Is Dry Mouth Treated?
Here are three treatments to reduce your symptoms:
- Make Medication Adjustments: Certain prescriptions can exacerbate dry mouth. If you think the medication you’re taking is slowing down your saliva production, talk to your doctor about adjusting the dosage or finding another drug with fewer side effects.
- Improve Saliva Flow: Chew on sugar-free gum or suck on a piece of hard candy or a mint to encourage your mouth to create more saliva. Drink plenty of water and try to stay hydrated.
- Get Dental Care: Regular visits to the dentist can keep dry mouth symptoms under control. Home care is important, too. Brush twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste, and consider adding a fluoride rinse. If your dry mouth symptoms continue, ask your dentist to prescribe an over-the-counter saliva substitute.
If you suspect you have dry mouth, it’s time to visit the dentist. The team at Wahiawa & Pearl Family Dental Care will perform a thorough oral examination to determine the cause and discuss some effective treatment options with you. To make an appointment at their Pearl City office, call (808) 456-5953. For the Honolulu location, call (808) 422-2112. To schedule a visit to the Wahiawa practice, call (808) 622-2633. Visit the website for a complete list of their dental care services.