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Dry mouth. We’ve all experienced it at one time or another—but what causes it, and when does just being thirsty become something more serious?
In Dental terms, dry mouth (sometimes called xerostomia) is something more specific—and more serious—than just needing a tall cool glass of water. We talk about dry mouth when the mouth doesn’t produce enough saliva on its own. Saliva is important for our oral health and for all sorts of other reasons. It’s one of the first steps in digesting food, and it helps keep our mouths moist and clean, partly by fighting off bacteria and fungi that might otherwise form in the mouth. As such, an absence of adequate saliva can lead to infections that can turn into gum disease or other disorders.
How can you tell if you’re suffering from dry mouth? A few common symptoms include frequent thirst, a sticky, parched feeling in the mouth, even if you’ve had something to drink recently, sore throat, cracked lips, a tingling or burning sensation, especially on your tongue. If you develop sores in your mouth or at the corners of your lips, bad breath, hoarseness, or problems speaking, tasting, chewing, or swallowing, you may be suffering from dry mouth, and it’s probably time to consult your Overland Park dentist!
Many different factors can contribute to chronic dry mouth. Some of them more benign and easier to treat, while others are indicative of larger, underlying problems. Dry mouth is a common side effect of many medications, including both prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Chemotherapy and other medical treatments may also result of temporary or lasting damage to the glands that produce saliva, leading to dry mouth.
Dehydration and nerve damage also disrupt saliva production, which can lead to dry mouth, as can some lifestyle decisions, including smoking and chewing tobacco. Finally, dry mouth can be a side effect of certain diseases, especially diseases that attack the immune system, including HIV/AIDs or Sjogren’s syndrome, a condition in which the immune system attacks the glands that create moisture in the body, including salivary glands and tear ducts.
So what should you do if you’re concerned about dry mouth? Well, the first thing to do is to contact your Overland Park dentist. We can help ascertain whether your symptoms are a temporary annoyance, or something to be more concerned about. In the meantime, there are several home remedies that can help alleviate the symptoms of dry mouth, including drinking plenty of water, chewing sugar-free gum to encourage salivation, breathing through your nose rather than your mouth as much as possible, and using a vaporizer to add moisture to the air, especially in your bedroom. Ultimately, though, nothing helps combat dry mouth better than regular brushing with fluoride toothpaste—and maybe even using a fluoride rinse—and making regular visits to your Overland Park dentist.
So if you think you might be suffering from dry mouth, the best thing to do is to contact Watts Family Dental by calling (913) 338-3384 to schedule an appointment with your Overland Park dentist today!