If you frequently experience dry mouth, you may have more to worry about besides discomfort and bad breath. Among patients with dental problems, chronic dryness tends to be a common symptom.
Saliva begins the process of food digestion and protects your dental health. Chronic dryness can affect your ability to enjoy food and digest it properly. Over time, plaque grows more easily on teeth and gums without the presence of saliva to kill the bacteria.
In fact, dry mouth is one of the lesser-known but highly problematic causes of gum disease, tooth decay and tooth loss.
How to Treat Dry Mouth
Depending on the severity and frequency of the problem, you may be able to control your symptoms with simple changes in habits. For more serious cases, over-the-counter and prescription medicines may be prescribed.
- Stay Hydrated. Dry mouth can simply be a sign that you need to drink more fluids. Start with the old advice to drink 8 glasses of water per day, but add more as necessary. Most adult men actually need about 13 cups of non-caffeinated fluids per day, and adult women need at least 9.
- Use Alcohol-Free Mouthwash. Those harsh mouthwashes kill the germs, but may also worsen dryness. We recommend Biotène or other non-alcohol mouthwashes that specifically promote healthy saliva flow.
- Chew Gum. Sugarless gum and cough drops tell your salivary glands to go into action.
- Try Saliva-Boosting Products. Gels, sprays and rinses containing xylitol or other saliva-boosting ingredients can help stimulate more moisture when hydration will not suffice.
- Talk to Your Doctor About Medications. You may have noticed that many TV commercials for prescription medications mention dry mouth as a common side effect. If you take any over-the-counter or prescription drugs, tell your doctor about your symptoms. An alternative medication may be available that will not dry out your mouth.
- Use an air humidifier. Knoxville may be fairly humid, but our homes and offices are kept air conditioned and dry. Try using a humidifier, especially at night.
You may need to treat underlying issues to get rid of dry mouth. For example, if you also have chronic dry eyes, a doctor may diagnose you with Sjögren’s Syndrome, a common condition that causes severe dryness. If you have sleep apnea, you may need a nighttime device that helps you breathe through the nose.
Treating dry mouth will help you enjoy a healthier life—from better taste buds to stronger teeth and gums. Talk to our staff at My Family Dentistry and we can help determine the causes and find the best solutions for you.