Dry mouth is a hugely common issue that affects most people at some point in their lives. In many cases, it can be successfully treated at home, or is just a temporary effect arising from our lifestyles – perhaps where we’ve overindulged in alcohol the night before. In some cases, however, dry mouth can require treatment by a dentist.
Dry mouth can have an effect on a person’s dental and oral health. Left untreated, conditions such as halitosis (bad breath) and tooth decay can occur. Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is caused by a lack of saliva in our mouths. Saliva is a vital component in the health of our mouths, and the first line of defence against dental problems. Saliva is used by the mouth to rinse away any food debris, sugars and other matter in the mouth that may lead to the growth of bacteria. Where dry mouth occurs, the natural production of saliva is hindered, and so insufficient quantities of saliva is present in the mouth, leading to inadequate rinsing.
There are many causes of dry mouth, from over-indulgence of alcohol through medications and even underlying health issues, such as depression and anxiety. A dentist will review a patient’s medical history and conduct a thorough dental exam in order to isolate the likely cause and treat it effectively.
Drinking plenty of water can alleviate many cases of dry mouth, by helping to keep the mouth moisturized. Also, regular chewing can help to stimulate the natural production of saliva. In both cases, avoiding sugar-based foods and beverages are a good idea, as sugar can dry out the mouth’s saliva, rather than produce it.
In more stubborn cases of dry mouth, a dentist can supply a range of treatments from moisturizing gels and gums to mouthwashes. Many over-the-counter mouthwashes are alcohol-based, which can also lead to or exacerbate symptoms of dry mouth. Where the cause of dry mouth is based in medication, a dentist or physician may be able to suggest an alternative treatment that doesn’t carry dry mouth as a side effect.
Simple life-style changes, from cutting down on alcohol and tobacco to dietary changes, can also have a positive effect on the problems of dry mouth. Maintaining a regular dental hygiene regime can also help deal with dry mouth issues.
If you are experiencing signs and symptoms of dry mouth in the Arlington TX area, contact the office of Dr. Daniel C. Bush at 817-465-0355 to schedule a consultation.