Dry mouth may not seem like it’s a serious problem, but it can impact your life in a negative way. Saliva is important for several reasons, and when your glands don’t produce enough of it, you can suffer from side effects such as gum disease, cavities and even difficulty swallowing food.
Dry mouth has a variety of causes. Some of them are temporary, such as a side effect of a medication, and others are permanent, such as damaged salivary glands from radiation therapy. The first step in reversing your dry mouth is to uncover the cause. For instance, your doctor might change your prescription medication to give you relief.
If it’s discovered your dry mouth condition is permanent, you can use some lifestyle tips to control it. Your dentist can also offer treatments that protect your teeth from the consequences of your condition. Below are some treatments that might help.
Your dentist might prescribe medications that cause your salivary glands to make more saliva. This may not be the best choice for everyone, but in some cases, the oral tablets will stimulate more saliva so your symptoms of dry mouth improve. The pills don’t cure the condition; they just treat it, so if you stop taking the pills, your dry mouth will come back.
There are also some saliva stimulants you can try that don’t need a prescription. Chewing gum and hard candy might help improve your saliva flow. Buy the sugarless variety so you don’t increase your risk of cavities.
Other medications to consider are saliva replacements. You squeeze the liquid or gel in your mouth to use in place of your own saliva. You may have to use these products frequently throughout the day. Your dentist may prescribe these for you or you can buy them over-the-counter where toothpaste and mouthwash are sold.
Also, try sleeping with a humidifier next to your bed at night. Breathing moist air helps keep your mouth moist too, and it may prevent a dry or sore throat that is common with dry mouth.
The big concern with having dry mouth is the effect it has on your teeth. Your risk of cavities is greatly increased because your teeth need saliva to wash away food bits and neutralize bacteria. Your dentist may provide fluoride trays that you wear when you sleep at night so your teeth are protected.
In addition, your dentist can help you choose the best oral care products for your condition. For instance, you’ll want to avoid products with alcohol that can further dry your mouth.
Try using lip balm or gel on your lips to keep the corners of your mouth from cracking. Also, there are substances you can avoid so you won’t compound your problem. Stop smoking and drinking alcohol since both of these make dry mouth symptoms worse. You may also want to avoid spicy foods because they can irritate your mouth when it isn’t protected with enough saliva.
One of the most important things you can do for your oral health when you have dry mouth is to see the dentist regularly so gum disease and cavities can be treated when they are in the early stages. Being under the care of a dentist helps you manage your condition better, and it also reduces the risk of a dry mouth causing extensive dental problems.
If you’re struggling with dry mouth, make an appointment with Advanced Family Dental Care for friendly and compassionate treatment that helps keep your mouth healthy.