Dry mouth is a condition in which your mouth is unusually dry. The medical term for dry mouth is xerostomia (zeer-o-STO-me-uh).
Dry mouth is a common problem that may seem little more than a nuisance. But a dry mouth can affect both your enjoyment of food and the health of your teeth. Some of the common problems associated with dry mouth include a constant sore throat, burning sensation, problems speaking, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness or dry nasal passages. Drying irritates the soft tissues in the mouth, which can make them inflamed and more susceptible to infection.
Dry mouth is a potential side effect of numerous medications (prescribed and over-the-counter). Among them are antihistamines, decongestants, painkillers, high blood pressure medications, muscle relaxants, drugs for urinary incontinence, Parkinson’s disease medications, antidepressants and many others.
Smoking or chewing tobacco can increase dry mouth symptoms. Snoring and breathing with your mouth open also can contribute to the problem. Additionally, Chemotherapy drugs can change the nature of saliva and the amount produced. Radiation treatments to your head and neck can damage salivary glands, causing a marked decrease in saliva production .
Left untreated, dry mouth can damage your teeth. Without adequate saliva to lubricate your mouth, wash away food, and neutralize the acids produced by plaque, extensive decay can occur. Saliva also enhances your ability to taste and makes it easier to swallow. In addition, enzymes in saliva aid in digestion.
Although the treatment depends on the cause, dry mouth is often a side effect of medication. Dry mouth may improve with an adjusted dosage or a new prescription. If your doctor believes medication to be the cause, he or she may adjust your dosage or switch you to another medication that doesn't cause a dry mouth. Your doctor may also consider prescribing pilocarpine (Salagen) or cevimeline (Evoxac) to stimulate saliva production.
When the cause of the problem either can't be determined or can't be resolved, the following tips may help improve your dry mouth symptoms and keep your teeth healthy:
In severe cases, to prevent cavities, your dentist might fit you for coverings for your teeth filled with fluoride to wear at night. Without the cleansing effects of saliva, tooth decay and other oral health problems become more common.
Maintaining proper dental health and regular check-ups can help to prevent dental problems. If you are having issues with severe dry mouth and nothing seems to work, contact us today at 562-494-3477 to schedule an appointment or to find out information on treatment options.
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