Everybody has a dry mouth occasionally, often from dehydration that is easily rectified with a big glass of water. More persistent dry mouth is a greater concern and is a condition called xerostomia. Xerostomia can be caused when the saliva glands fail to produce enough saliva to keep the mouth moist, clean and comfortable. The condition can be a side-effect of some medications, may be caused by radiation therapy to the head or neck area and which damages the saliva glands, or because of a problem affecting the function of the saliva glands. Some medical conditions can cause dry mouth such as Sjogren’s syndrome and diabetes. Whatever the reason, dry mouth is more than just an inconvenience and can impact your dental and general health.
How Dry Mouth Affects Dental and General Health
Saliva enables the mouth to maintain a neutral pH, neutralizing acids and helping to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. It washes away food particles, reducing bacterial growth, and contains enzymes that begin the process of digestion, benefitting your general nutrition and overall health. Saliva moistens foods, so they are easier to chew and swallow, and eating is more comfortable and enjoyable.
How to Recognize the Signs of Xerostomia
Signs that you might have dry mouth include:
You might also develop dental problems such as tooth decay or gum problems, even though you know you take good care of your dental health.
What to Do If You Think You Could Have Dry Mouth
If you think you might have dry mouth, make an appointment to come and see us here at West Bowmanville Family Dental. Our Newcastle dentist can examine your mouth and will discuss possible causes for your dry mouth. We will need to know the details of your medical history and any health conditions that could affect your dental health. If you take prescription medications, it could also be worth visiting your GP just in case these might be causing problems and to discover if the dosage or type of medicine can be adjusted in any way. It is crucial to talk to your GP first as you should never stop any medications without their approval.
How We Can Help
Our dentist in Clarington can help you by prescribing products to help moisturize your mouth, or we can recommend over-the-counter products to try. We will devise a suitable preventative dental care plan to help you maintain the very best level of dental health. Your plan might include more frequent check-ups so we can monitor your oral health more closely. More frequent hygiene appointments can help as removing disease-causing bacteria more frequently will decrease your risk of developing dental problems. Topical fluoride treatments can be useful for protecting your teeth against cavities, and we can suggest suitable oral care products for use at home, for example, fluoride mouth rinses.
Things You Can Do
There are some things you can do to relieve the symptoms such as remaining well hydrated or chewing sugar-free candies or gum to stimulate saliva flow. Using a humidifier in your bedroom, or even placing a bowl of water in the room at night could help. Make sure you use good-quality fluoride toothpaste and brush your teeth at least twice a day. Don’t forget to come and see our dentist in Courtice regularly because the sooner we can detect any dental problems, the better.