If you told your friends and family that you suffer from xerostomia, their eyes would probably gloss over and their attention span start to fizzle! But if you told them it was dry mouth, the more common name for this unfortunate and all-too-common ailment, they would empathize. Whether it was a temporary problem or something more prevalent, most people have battled with dry mouth themselves at some point.
Dry mouth affects up to 10% of the population. This means that whether you are aware or not, you probably know several people in your life that suffer from it. Other than what the name implies however, dry mouth can affect your oral health in various ways on a daily basis.
What is Dry Mouth?
Simply put, dry mouth is when you aren’t producing enough saliva; causing a dry and uncomfortable mouth that could lead to deeper symptoms like sore throat, bad breath, and difficulty speaking. Everyone experiences small bouts of dry mouth where they lack enough saliva, but persistent symptoms can raise red flags for your oral health.
Side Effect of Medication
Hundreds of medications list dry mouth as a side effect. This is more common in medicine used to treat depression, anxiety, and basic pain medications and antihistamines.
Tobacco, Alcohol, and Drug Use
Regular use of recreational drugs, alcohol, and tobacco can affect your health in multiple ways. Dry mouth can be associated with these behaviors.
While the act of aging itself isn’t the main factor, the medications you begin taking as you age and other general health concerns that arise can be big factors in the occurrence of dry mouth.
You are probably thinking: “Is adequate saliva production really that important to my mouth and overall health?” The simple answer is yes, but let’s dig a bit deeper.
The Benefits of Saliva
People can’t begin to comprehend the powerful, positive effects of healthy saliva production. It plays a massive role in your oral health, and is also crucial to your body’s ability to digest food. Saliva breaks down your food particles and neutralizes unwanted acids that can cause some major damage. There are studies that even suggest that the presence of saliva helps heal wounds in your mouth quicker due to the minerals it possesses.
Not only does saliva take a proactive approach by killing off disease-causing bacteria, but it plays some lockdown defense on your teeth. A thin saliva film coats your teeth combatting bacteria and acidic residue that could be a sizable deterrent to your oral health, often leading to cavities and tooth decay.
Dry Mouth Treatments
For those suffering from dry mouth, remember that you are not alone! Our team at Surf City Dental is here to help you take the steps towards eliminating this condition. The first action is to come and see us for an evaluation so our dental team can perform a proper diagnosis, and then begin tracking the cause of your dry mouth. We will work with each patient to create the best treatment plan for their oral health.
Stimulate Saliva Flow
Popping a hard candy or some sugar-free gum is one easy method of stimulating your salivary gland and producing more saliva in your mouth. Other ways to stimulate saliva include using artificial saliva and oral rinses.
If you are concerned that medication you are taking is influencing your oral health, first consult your physician on other possible drug options. Our dentists would love to develop a plan with coordinated effort to ensure that you are receiving the best possible healthcare, and ultimately alleviate the problem of dry mouth.
Preventative Oral Measures
Regular dental care is always a great step in achieving continual oral health throughout all life stages. Oral health maintenance such as installing things like fluoride trays or scheduling regular rinses that prevent cavities, can play a big part in ensuring your dry mouth is at a minimum. Your teeth will thank you as well for upholding a steady oral healthcare routine.
At Surf City Dental, our goal is for our patients to come to us with any concerns they may have about dry mouth and their healthcare in general, so we can best assist their wellness. We can’t wait to see you at your next visit!