Dry mouth occurs when your salivary glands aren’t producing as much saliva. This can happen for different reasons, but it’s important to seek treatment for it since decreased saliva can increase your risk of tooth decay.
Symptoms of Dry MouthWhen you don’t have enough saliva in your mouth, you might have a feeling of dryness on a regular basis. Dry mouth can also cause you to have bad breath, trouble keeping dentures in and a sore throat. Foods might also taste different, and you might have trouble chewing and swallowing.
Causes of Dry MouthYou can have persistent dryness in your mouth due to the aging process. This sometimes occurs as a result of taking certain medications, having underlying health problems or not eating a healthy diet. Some of the medications that can make your mouth dry include prescription and non-prescription medications for high blood pressure, decongestants, pain relievers and antihistamines. Other possible causes of dryness in your mouth include having diabetes, autoimmune diseases or stroke. You’re also more likely to have dryness if you sleep with your mouth open instead of breathing through your nose. Dry mouth can also occur due to chemotherapy drugs for cancer, nerve damage and alcohol or tobacco use.
Candidates for Dry Mouth TreatmentThose who have symptoms of dry mouth should see a dentist for treatment in order to lower the risk of complications. When you have dryness in your mouth, you have a higher chance of getting tooth decay. Saliva normally helps reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth, which protects your teeth from decay. In addition to decay, you might also have an increased risk of developing gingivitis and other gum problems and thrush or other infections in your mouth. Having dryness in your mouth treated helps reduce these risks.
Treatments for Dry MouthThe treatment that ends up being best for you depends on the cause of dryness. You might need to talk to your doctor about switching medications or managing a chronic, underlying condition, such as high blood pressure, in order to find relief. Other ways to treat these symptoms include:
- Chewing sugar-free gum to increase saliva production in your mouth
- Drinking water to moisten your mouth
- Breathing through your nose rather than your mouth
- Using a vaporizer to increase moisture in your home
- Brushing your teeth with toothpaste that contains fluoride to lower your risk of tooth decay
- Using a rinse with fluoride to strengthen your tooth enamel
- Having regular dental cleanings and exams to protect your teeth and gums