Do you wake with a mouth that feels like the desert or constantly feel like you need a drink of water? Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a common condition that occurs when there is not enough saliva production in the mouth. Although it may seem like a minor inconvenience, this condition can have quite an impact on your wellness. In today’s blog, your Cleveland, TX, dentist explores the various causes of dry mouth, examines its effects on oral health, and provides effective strategies for prevention.
Dry mouth is a common side effect of many prescription and over-the-counter medications, including antihistamines, antidepressants, diuretics, and painkillers. Certain medical conditions such as diabetes, Sjogren’s syndrome, HIV/AIDS, and autoimmune disorders can contribute to the condition, as well. Insufficient water intake can lead to dehydration, resulting in decreased saliva production. Luckily, this is not a chronic issue and can be resolved by simply drinking more water. Habits such as smoking, chewing tobacco, excessive alcohol consumption, and caffeine intake can also dehydrate the body, leading to reduced saliva production.
Impact on Oral Health
If dry mouth is not dealt with, a snowball of dental issues may follow:
- Tooth Decay: Saliva plays a crucial role in neutralizing acids and washing away food particles, bacteria, and plaque. Tooth decay must be promptly removed so it does not spread deeper into the tooth or risk infecting other teeth.
- Bad Breath: Dry mouth can cause halitosis or chronic bad breath due to reduced saliva’s cleansing and antibacterial properties. You may require more frequent professional cleanings to remove excess plaque and tartar below the gumline.
- Gum Disease: Lack of saliva allows harmful bacteria to thrive, increasing the risk of gum disease. This can lead to gum inflammation, infection, and potential tooth loss if left untreated.
- Difficulty in Chewing, Swallowing, and Speaking: Saliva is essential for the digestive process, facilitating swallowing, and aids in speech.
- Oral Infections: Saliva helps prevent oral infections by naturally fighting pathogens. Dry mouth compromises this defense mechanism, increasing the susceptibility to oral infections, such as thrush or yeast infections.
Preventing and Managing Dry Mouth
The first step is to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, and consuming less caffeinated beverages and alcohol since they dehydrate and exacerbate dry mouth.
Quitting smoking or chewing tobacco or at least reducing your use is vital as it not only worsens dryness but also increases the risk of oral cancer and other oral health problems. Over-the-counter saliva substitutes or artificial saliva products can provide temporary relief. Many can even fight decay if they contain xylitol or fluoride. At your dental check-ups, if we notice signs of dry mouth, we have several products and samples we may recommend.
Schedule a Check-Up Today!
Maintaining your regular six-month check-ups will allow us to monitor your oral health, address any concerns related to dry mouth, and suggest appropriate treatments or recommendations. Let us keep your health optimized and call our dental office in Cleveland, TX, today at (281) 592-1234. We also proudly serve patients and their families from Kingwood, New Caney, Conroe, Livingston, Huffman, and all surrounding communities.