Everyone’s mouth is dry now and then, but for about one in five adults, dry mouth or xerostomia is a chronic condition that leaves the mouth and the throat rough, sore, and sticky.
Effects of xerostomia
Some xerostomia sufferers experience hoarse voices and have trouble eating, swallowing, talking, or wearing dentures. Xerostomia may also make you more vulnerable to sores and yeast infections, and teeth are at a much greater risk of decay.
The condition also has nutritional consequences. Dry mouths can be sensitive to spicy or acidic foods like fruit juice, or foods that require a lot of chewing like vegetables and cereal. As a result, studies show that dry mouth sufferers often lack essential vitamins and nutrients in their diets.
Causes of xerostomia
There are many causes of dry mouth. It may be an indication of a problem with or blockage of the salivary glands. It can also be caused by other disease processes, radiation treatment, work environment, or even mood changes. However, in most cases, dry mouth is the result of medication; in fact, this condition is the single most common side effect of medications.
All kinds of drugs can cause dry mouth, including those used to treat depression, anxiety, and hypertension. Other medications that have this unfortunate side effect may include antihistamines, antispasmodics, decongestants, and muscle relaxants.
If you suffer from dry mouth, be meticulous about keeping your mouth clean. Saliva helps to wash away decay-causing bacteria and when the mouth is dry, you are at greater risk of both cavities and gum disease. Most importantly, let us know at your next visit. We may suggest one of a number of special rinses or different oral hygiene techniques.
Other ways to treat dry mouth or the problems associated with it include:
- avoiding spicy foods
- avoiding alcohol and smoking, as they irritate the gums
- using sugar-free gum or candy to stimulate saliva flow
- eating soft foods moistened with sauce or gravy
- drinking lots of fluids, especially water
- breathing through the nose rather than mouth
- using a humidifier
- rinsing the mouth with lemon diluted in water or glycerin
If you’re struggling with xerostomia, the best thing to do is to consult with your dentist! You can book an appointment right here.