Saliva is important to clear away food and other debris from the mouth, and it neutralizes acids caused from harmful bacteria. Saliva is our bodies natural defense against things like tooth decay and gingivitis. Dry mouth (we’re talking about the condition of perpetual dry mouth, not the more common and fleeting dehydrated sensation we all experience) is the cause of an inadequate flow of saliva. Usually the condition is a side effect from certain medications like antihistamines, decongestants, pain killers, etc. (there are many others).
Symptoms of a dry mouth vary, but the most common are: a sore throat, a burning sensation somewhere in the mouth, or a person might have trouble speaking for long periods of time, and they may find their nasal and throat passages also feel dried out. If the soft tissues within the mouth become dried out, they can become enflamed and irritated, and more susceptible to infection. Other side-effects of dry mouth include bad breath, and, if a patient wears dentures, the lack of saliva will cause the dentures to adhere loosely to the gums.
There is a relief from the condition. Sometimes just increasing the amount of fluids can alleviate the symptoms. Sugar-free candies and sugar-free gums are effective at increasing saliva. Remember also that caffeinated drinks—coffee and soda—and alcoholic beverages can cause slight dehydration, and should be used sparingly, if at all, if a patient is suffering chronic dry mouth. If fluids don’t immediately take care of the problem, then your dentist may prescribe an artificial saliva—it’s an over-the-counter medication that will help to keep the oral tissues moist, and help to keep the teeth clean of debris. Also, make sure to keep to a strict routine of brushing twice daily and flossing once. It may also be beneficial to have additional fluoride during this time, because the fluoride will help to fight tooth decay.
Remember to keep with your regular dental checkups, twice yearly. Your dentist will be able to monitor your dry-mouth condition; your dentist will also be able to guide you to the appropriate medications or at-home treatments as to how to solve your dry-mouth condition.
If you have any questions about dry mouth, or just need to schedule your next appointment, call Premier Dental and make your next appointment today.