Dry mouth, also called xerostomia, occurs when the mouth is unusually dry either temporarily or over a longer, more extended amount of time. You may have experienced this after forgetting to drink water on an especially hot day in the peak of summer. What many people don’t realize, is that if it occurs over a prolonged period of time it can have a major impact on your teeth if not monitored.
Why Saliva is Important
It may seem like the loss of saliva is not a big deal outside the minor inconvenience and discomfort it causes, but it’s important for many reasons. To begin with, it starts the process of digestion when eating. It also helps clean the food particles off your teeth which in turn removes the bacteria and harmful acids that accumulate. This can lead to increased plaque, tooth decay, and gum disease. Mouth sores and cracked lips are also possible. A fungal infection, sometimes called thrush, can also occur as a result of dry mouth.
What Causes Dry Mouth
One of the biggest causes of dry mouth is actually medications. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, there are over 400 different medicines that can cause dry mouth. These range from pain medications to antihistamines to antidepressants and many others in between. Cancer therapy can cause temporary changes to saliva flow. However, radiation can also permanently damage salivary glands. Autoimmune diseases, Alzheimer’s and stroke can all lead to symptoms of dry mouth.
Other causes include tobacco and methamphetamine use, snoring, mouth breathing and nerve damage.
Things to Do
- Sip water throughout the day.
- Chew sugarless gum
- Suck on sugar-free candy
- Try over-the-counter dry mouth solutions
Talk to your doctor about alternative medications that don’t cause dry mouth
Talk to your doctor or dentist about artificial saliva and moisturizers
Things to Avoid
- Salty foods
- Sugary foods
Over the counter antihistamines and decongestants
If you are experiencing dry mouth and are worried about the effect it may be having on your teeth, call our office today at (972) 278-9901 so we can answer any questions you have and schedule an appointment.