Tampa area residents who suffer from dry mouth want to know why and what to do. At Serenity Dental of Tampa, our dentists can help you determine the cause of your dry mouth and prescribe therapeutic treatment.
If you are experiencing dry mouth (xerostomia), talk to Dr. Nilash or Nitash Patel of Serenity Dental in Tampa about it. They will be able to help find the cause, counsel you on managing it, and even prescribe therapeutic treatment.
Saliva has several important functions in maintaining a healthy and comfortable mouth. As a lubricant, it helps protect the soft tissues against ulcers, sores, and uncomfortable friction. Saliva neutralizes acids and helps digest food, initiating the digestion of carbohydrates in the mouth. It helps clear away food particles on and between teeth. It helps re-mineralize tooth enamel. Enzymes in saliva not only start digestion but also contribute to taste. It’s antibodies help defend our bodies against bacterial threat.
Besides decreasing your quality of life, xerostomia can raise your risk of gingivitis (gum disease), tooth decay, and mouth infections, such as thrush. Dry mouth can also make it hard to wear dentures. At times, it can make it difficult to speak and may lead to malnutrition.
It’s easy to see why you should seek diagnosis and treatment if you are repeatedly or chronically suffering from any of the following common symptoms:
- A sticky, dry feeling in the mouth
- Frequent thirst
- Sores in the mouth; sores or split skin at the corners of the mouth; cracked lips
- A dry feeling in the throat
- A burning or tingling sensation in the mouth and especially on the tongue
- A dry, red, raw tongue
- Problems speaking or trouble tasting, chewing, and swallowing
- Dry nasal passages,
- Sore throat, and
- Bad breath
Dry mouth affects about 10% of all people and is more prevalent in women than men. Dry mouth most commonly occurs as a side effect of medications that cause decreased saliva production. These medications include blood pressure medications, antihistamines, antidepressants, diuretics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, and many others. Although decreased saliva production most frequently affects elderly people and those who are taking prescription and nonprescription medications, there are many other causes such as radiation treatments to treat cancerous tumors of the head and neck, salivary gland diseases, diabetes, hormonal imbalance, mouth breathing, sleep apnea, and autoimmune disorders such as Sjögren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and systemic lupus erythematosus. Eating disorders, such as bulimia and anorexia, are other risk factors for developing xerostomia. Salivary production can be decreased if a there is nerve damage to the head or neck due to an injury or surgery, or if a major salivary duct becomes blocked from a stone or infection. Dry mouth will often occur during pregnancy or breastfeeding due to dehydration and hormonal changes. Other causative factors include smoking or chewing tobacco, stress, anxiety, depression, and dehydration.
Extreme dry mouth and salivary gland dysfunction can produce significant and permanent mouth and throat disorders. Talk to your dentist at Serenity Dental to help determine and understand why you are experiencing this condition. If medications are the cause, a consultation with your prescribing doctor may result in an adjustment in dosage or change in medication. An oral rinse can be prescribed to help restore mouth moisture. If that doesn’t help, a medication can be prescribed to boost saliva production.
If your symptoms are not severe, the following may increase saliva production and provide comfort:
- Suck on sugar-free candy or chew sugar-free gum.
- Drink plenty of water to help keep your mouth moist.
- Brush with a fluoride toothpaste, use a fluoride rinse, and visit your dentist regularly.
- Breathe through your nose, not your mouth, as much as possible.
- Use a room vaporizer to add moisture to the bedroom air.
- Use an over-the-counter artificial saliva substitute.