Everyone has a dry mouth occasionally. Dry mouth can come about when we are nervous, upset, or under stress. But if you have a dry mouth most of the time, or all the time, it can go beyond mere discomfort and can lead to serious oral health issues. And this can be a larger problem, because many people don’t see dry mouth as an important dental problem.
At Smiles Nambour, we’d like to emphasise that saliva is the friend of your oral and general health, and a key part of avoiding dry mouth and the further dental trauma that can result from it!
Saliva not only helps defend against gum disease and tooth decay, but also helps in digesting and swallowing food, reduces the bacteria; level of the mouth, and contains minerals that help remineralise the enamel of the teeth, helping it become stronger.
Without the cleansing and protective effects of adequate salivary flow, tooth decay and gum disease are more common.
Signs and symptoms of dry mouth
The symptoms of dry mouth are nearly as varied as the causes of it:
- Bad breath
- Inflammation and splitting or cracking of the lips
- Cracking and splitting of the inner lining of the cheeks and lips, including the corners of the mouth
- Dryness in the mouth
- Taste disorders
- Fungal infections in the mouth, such as thrush
- Painful tongue
- Increased need to drink water, especially at night
- Inflammation of the tongue, tongue ulcers
- Increased gum disease
- Problems swallowing and chewing
- Problems wearing dentures
- Salivary gland infection
- Sore throats
- Stringy or sticky saliva
The causes of dry mouth
The causes of dry mouth are many and varied, but they need to be identified in order to be properly treated.
The most common cause of dry mouth is as a side effect of legal drugs including high blood pressure medications, antihistamines, antidepressants, diuretics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, narcotics, and many others. There are between 400 and 600 common medications that can cause dry mouth.
Other causes of dry mouth include dehydration, radiation treatments, salivary gland issues, diabetes, any kind of tobacco use, hormonal imbalances, mouth breathing, sleep apnea, cystic fibrosis, mumps, and several autoimmune disorders. Eating disorders, such as bulimia and anorexia, are other risk factors for developing dry mouth.
Dry mouth can occur during pregnancy or breastfeeding due to dehydration and hormonal changes. Additional risk factors include anxiety, stress, and depression. Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases often put a person at risk for dry mouth in addition to their other destructive effects.
Remedies for dry mouth
- Chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free hard candies to stimulate the flow of saliva.
- Limit your caffeine intake because caffeine is a diuretic and can make your mouth drier.
- Don’t use mouthwashes that contain alcohol because they can be drying.
- Stop all tobacco use if you smoke or chew tobacco.
- Sip water regularly.
- Try a mouthwash designed for dry mouth — especially one that contains xylitol, which also offers protection against tooth decay, and does not contain alcohol.
- Avoid using over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants because they can make your symptoms worse.
- Breathe through your nose, not your mouth.
- Add moisture to the air at night with a room humidifier.
And most importantly:
- Patients with dry mouth are prone to oral health complications, so is important that you brush gently (don’t overdo it!), at least twice daily, with a new and soft-bristled toothbrush. Pay particular attention to your gum line, and floss (again, gently) at least once daily. It’s also important to see your dental professional regularly in an effort to avoid serious oral health problems.
If you frequently have a dry mouth, taking these steps to protect your oral health may also help your condition:
- Use a fluoride rinse or brush-on fluoride gel before bedtime. Occasionally a custom-fit fluoride applicator can make this more effective.
- Visit your dentist at least twice yearly to detect and treat tooth decay or other dental problems.
If none of these steps works, it’s time to visit us at Smiles Nambour and take the next steps together.
What Smiles Nambour can do
If these at-home approaches do not reduce your dry mouth symptoms, come see us at Smiles Nambour. We can recommend drugs that increase saliva flow or fluoride treatments, while also keeping an eye on any problems that might be developing as a result of dry mouth.
Dentistry at Smiles Nambour
Smiles Nambour is the perfect choice for dental care in the Nambour area, from stopping dry mouth in the bud to complicated treatments such as root canals! Our professional staff is dedicated to providing you with personalised, quality dental care.
A visit to Smiles Nambour is an investment in your dental health and attractive smile. Smiles Nambour offers a comprehensive list of general, restorative and cosmetic dental services for you and your entire family.
Call us on (07) 5441 4438 or visit us at 4/104 Currie St in Nambour.