Dry Mouth, Not Just a Nuisance
Healthy mouths are juicy mouths
Dry mouth symptoms can make eating, swallowing, even tasting hard to accomplish. Millions of Americans experience dry mouth often enough for it to affect their oral health. Dry mouth, also called Xerostomia, results in not having enough saliva in your mouth. Less saliva in the mouth may be only slightly noticeable or extremely uncomfortable depending on the severity and duration of the condition.
- A dry, sticky feeling in the mouth
- food clinging to teeth or the roof of mouth
- Dry nasal passages, a dry or hoarse throat
- Excess or frequent thirst
- Burning tongue or tingling sensation
- Trouble tasting, chewing or swallowing
- Sores in the mouth or dry cracked lips
These common symptoms are most associated with dry mouth. Besides being uncomfortable, prolonged or frequent dry mouth increase the incidence of gingivitis, tooth decay and mouth infections.
- Less saliva makes mouths more acidic
- Acidic saliva creates the ideal condition for bacterial growth
- Without enough saliva to dilute the acid teeth are weakened and easily attacked by bacteria
- The constant increased acid makes teeth more susceptible to decay
- Less saliva, means more chewing to make food easier to swallow
- more chewing equals more wear and tear on teeth
- remineralizing teeth with healthy foods and strengthening enamel can only happen if there is adequate saliva in the mouth.
- Dry mouth prevents remineralization
With hundreds of things that contribute to dry mouth, individuals may experience multiple conditions that contribute to the likelihood of having dry mouth. There are over 500 types of medications potentially creating or adding to the condition of dry mouth.
Some of the most common causes of dry mouth:
- Medications, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and certain drugs all are common culprits of the condition
- Medical conditions like lupus, diabetes, sjogren’s syndrome, cerebral palsy and several other conditions are also associated with significantly elevated risk of dry mouth
- Nerve conditions or nerve problems
- Salivary duct obstruction
- Normal changes associated with changes in hormones
- Especially related to pregnancy or menopause
- Breathing through the mouth
- Alcohol and excess caffeine intake
- Inadequate hydration
- It’s common as people age for the mouth to be more prone to xerostomia
Get juicy and crunchy! The best ways to combat the condition is by increasing your hydration efforts and snacking on things that naturally help the mouth create more saliva. Sugar free candy or gum are handy for between meals, road trips, and times when you may not be able to sip on extra water. Juicy snacks like apples and fruit are an excellent source of mouth hydrating juices, plus the crunchy fruits and veggies help dislodge detris and bacteria from teeth surfaces.
Get enough water
Staying hydrated, can drastically help combat the effects of dry mouth. Slippery saliva coats teeth, carries minerals that help strengthen enamel, dislodges food particles, rinses away bacteria, and dilutes acids in the mouth. Double check that you’re getting enough water. Various studies recommend 8 or more glasses a day, some newer studies suggest converting total body weight to ounces and drinking 2/3rds of that volume daily, adding more in hot or humid climates, and up to 11 additional ounces per thirty minutes of vigorous exercise.
Get in touch
Make sure and discuss dry mouth with your dentist. Dentist can pay close attention to prevalence of changes associated with dry mouth and make suggestions that are most likely to improve the condition. Discuss symptoms with your regular practitioner to make sure medications you are using aren’t contributing to the problems and if they are your doctor can help you weigh the pros and cons and if other choices are available.