Have you ever experienced dry mouth? It is common for patients coming to our dental office to complain about dry mouth and to search for answers. The symptoms of dry mouth can range from a feeling of persistent dryness and burning in the mouth; cracked tongue, chapped lips; bad breath; decreased taste in food, and problems wearing dentures. Dry mouth, or “xerostomia,” is the result of reduced production of saliva from your salivary glands. Saliva helps prevent tooth decay by neutralizing acids produced by bacteria, limiting bacterial growth, and washing away food particles. If you don’t have enough saliva, it can lead to increased plaque, tooth decay, gum disease, and oral yeast infection. The most common cause of dry mouth is the side effect of medication, and there are hundreds of medications which can produce d1y mouth. Sometimes it’s simply a natural process of aging. To determine the cause of your dry mouth, see yow· dentist. He or she will examine your mouth, review your medical history, and review all of your current medications. What are the solutions to dry mouth? If it is caused by medications, your physician may adjust the dosage or switch you to another’ medication that doesn’t cause dry mouth. For a majority of patients, the use of a combination of the regimes described below is all that is necessary.
See your dentist regularly.
See your dentist at least twice a year, or more frequently, for an oral exam and a professional cleaning. People with dry mouth are prone to tooth decay, gum disease, and fungal infection. Increasing the frequency of dental checkups and cleanings can help identify and treat the issues at an early stage.
Practice good home care.
Good home care is brushing at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing every day.
Alleviate oral dryness.
There are a number of OTC agents that help alleviate oral dryness and which are available through the internet or through large retail stores. For example: Biotene oral balance gel, Mouth Kote oral saliva substitute, or Oral Mist spray. One can simply use plain water in a small spray bottle to moisten the mouth as well.
Dry mouth might seem like a nuisance, but it is frequently associated with increased risk of tooth decay. Extra Fluoride and/or Xylitol are highly recommended for prevention. For example: OTC Fluoride toothpaste (1000-1500ppm), prescription Fluoride toothpaste (5000ppm), Calcium Phosphate paste (Ml paste), Xylitol gum/candy, or topical fluoride varnish (applied at your cleaning visits).
Diet and lifestyle change.
Avoid sugary foods, sugary drinks, and smoking, as they all dry the mouth. Keep hydrated with plain water. Add moisture to the air at night with a room humidifier.
In summary, if you experience dry mouth, please speak to your medical doctor and to your dentist for evaluation and guidance on how to manage this condition. Optimal oral health is strongly associated with your optimal general health. At Wilbraham Dental Associates, we are strongly committed to helping you achieve your optimal oral health!
Madeline Q. Zhao, DMD