Family Dentist in Lincoln CA Shares Causes of Dry Mouth
Dry mouth, a condition formally known as “xerostomia,” affects millions of people for many different reasons. Saliva is the mouth’s natural cleansing agent, and when it is deficient, the consequences can be severe. Regardless of the cause or severity, dry mouth can have significant adverse effects on oral health. Aside from discomfort in addition to difficulty chewing and speaking, reduced salivary flow has a direct affect on the incidence of dental cavities and periodontal disease. Although preventing and treating xerostomia can be challenging, there are ways to combat dry mouth, including the best treatment of all: prevention when possible.
Causes of Dry Mouth
Dry mouth can be caused by a wide variety of conditions or habits. Perhaps the most common preventable cause of dry mouth is tobacco use, including smokeless tobacco. One of the primary reasons that tobacco use increases the likelihood of cavities and gum disease is due to the reduced salivary flow it causes. Use of illicit drugs has a similar effect.
A great many prescription medications are also to blame for dry mouth. Saliva-reducing drugs span many different classes and treat many different conditions. If you suffer from dry mouth, first talk to your doctor about what medications you are taking and how they may be causing xerostomia. If possible, a different drug may be prescribed that allows for healthy salivary flow.
Certain medical conditions can also lead to dry mouth, including autoimmune diseases like Sjogrens syndrome. Patients who receive head and neck radiation are also much more likely to develop xerostomia as a result of the damaging effects of radiation on the salivary glands.
Preventing Dry Mouth
Obviously, smoking cessation and abandoning other harmful habits can have an immediate positive impact on salivary flow. If you have dry mouth caused by medications or medical conditions, simple exercises like chewing sugar free gum can increase salivary flow. Staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water throughout the day can also improve dry mouth.
Treating Dry Mouth
In severe cases of dry mouth, certain prescription medications may be utilized to increase salivary flow, but it is important to discuss with your doctor or dentist what, if any, reactions these medications can have with your existing regimen. Using mouth rinses specifically formulated to treat dry mouth are also helpful, and some mouthwashes are available in prescription form.
Maintaining a constant and steady salivary flow is one of the most basic necessities of a healthy mouth. If you are suffering from dry mouth, talk to your dentist about what may be causing it and how it can be improved.