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Franklyn Alexander, DDS
General & Cosmetic Dentistry

Patients Choice Winner 2016

How To Treat Dry Mouth Condition

Do you have a hard time swallowing? Do you find that you need to drink a lot of water to keep your mouth from drying out? It could mean that you have xerostomia, a condition that causes your mouth to dry out due to a lack of saliva.

Saliva has a variety of important functions. Besides keeping your mouth wet, it helps to digest food and prevent your teeth from experiencing decay. It cuts back on infections and things like gum disease by keeping bacteria and fungi under control. Without saliva, it becomes very difficult to chew and swallow.

Discomforts of Dry Mouth

Because of all the reasons that we need saliva, a lack of it results in a lot of irritating symptoms. Xerostomia can cause your mouth to feel sticky, dry, or have a burning sensation. Your tongue may feel rough or dry, and your throat may be affected too. Your lips can become cracked and sores and infections can develop in your mouth. In addition to trouble swallowing, you might find it hard to chew, taste, or talk.

If you suspect that you have xerostomia, you should make sure you talk to your dentist or physician before doing much else or waiting long. Treatment focuses on identifying the cause of the problem and then fixing it, if possible.

Causes of Dry Mouth

Some of the primary causes of xerostomia include stress, anxiety, dehydration, breathing through the mouth excessively, or trauma to the salivary glands, ducts, or nerves. It can also result from previous radiation therapy or chemotherapy, or as a side effect to drugs, alcohol, or medication. Sometimes it is a natural result of aging.

In certain cases, a dry mouth can be a sign of another problem. Common ones include vitamin deficiencies, Sj”gren’s syndrome, or diabetes that is not managed well. By reading through the list of potential causes and determining which, if any, apply to you, you can help your doctor to better prescribe treatment for your xerostomia.

However, if none of these causes apply to you and your doctor is unable to find one, treatment may focus on alleviating the symptoms instead.

Dry Mouth Treatment

  • Sip water, breathe through your nose
  • Use a humidifier at night
  • Keep 100% Xylitol gum or mints handy to help stimulate saliva production
  • Use over the counter saliva substitutes

You should pay special attention to oral hygiene and the products you use. You can purchase fluoride toothpaste specifically for dry mouth, while avoiding those that contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, or SLS. Be sure to keep up with your trips to the dentist for routine cleanings.

Foods to Avoid

There are also certain foods and products you should avoid, as they contribute to a dry mouth. These include decongestants, antihistamines, sugary food and candy, caffeinated or carbonated drinks, alcohol, acidic foods, smoking, and chewing tobacco.

Despite its annoying symptoms, xerostomia is a condition that has a variety of different treatment options. By talking to your doctor and dentist and making changes to your daily routine, you can combat the symptoms and even find complete relief from the condition.