June 10, 2016

Proper dental care depends on many external factors. Regular brushing, frequent flossing, using an antiseptic mouth rinse, dental cleanings – all of these activities make a positive impact on your teeth.

But internal influences are often overlooked when it comes to tooth care. Some of these pre-existing conditions and circumstances can produce negative consequences for your teeth. For example, what about your saliva? Most people produce normal amounts of saliva. When not enough saliva is present, a host of oral health issues arise.

This blog will look at “dry mouth,” and what you can do to treat the symptoms. But first, let’s examine saliva’s role in overall tooth health.

What to do about dry mouth

Saliva – A “Hidden Hero” of Self-Regulated Dental Maintenance

Produced by many different glands, saliva is mostly thought of as a food digestive aid. And that’s certainly true; saliva helps break down liquids and solids to make it easier for your body to digest.

But saliva acts as a tooth protector, too. Consider all the different things saliva does:

  • Maintains ideal moisture (and comfort) in the mouth
  • Helps fight bacteria and germs
  • Aids in the prevention of bad breath
  • Protects tooth enamel
  • Helps hold dentures, bridges and caps in place
  • And much more

Saliva is taken for granted. But when there’s little or no saliva, problems can begin almost immediately.

Dry Mouth – Causes, Symptoms, Solutions

Not enough saliva can cause some oral health issues. The most common symptom is dry mouth, and its medical term is xerostomia.

What causes xerostomia in the first place? The most common cause of dry mouth is improperly working salivary glands, and problems with other glands that help produce saliva. Medical treatments, illness, dehydration and nerve damage are four of the most common culprits that can produce xerostomia.

Typical symptoms include:

  • Constant thirst
  • Dry feeling in mouth
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Persistent thirst
  • Cracked lips or mouth sores
  • Dryness in throat
  • Bad breath

If left untreated, xerostomia can eventually lead to gingivitis (gum disease), cavities, tooth decay and other dental issues.

A range of treatment options are available, including changing your existing medication (many over-the-counter drugs can cause dry mouth), drinking more water, chewing non-sugary gum and snacks, using a room moisturizer, visiting the dentist more often and also taking medications that helps produce more saliva.

Alcohol and tobacco use can also cause dry mouth. If you have xerostomia, limit occasional drinks, cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. Or, better yet, try eliminating them altogether!

If you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, contact Dr. Dental today. We can help diagnose and treat xerostomia, and we can also help you maintain excellent oral health. As one of the leading dental networks in the New England area, Dr. Dental is perfect for individuals and families alike. Our friendly staff makes your experience more enjoyable, and our outstanding daily deals make your dental care more affordable! Stop by one of our dental offices, or call us at (877) 776-9833. Thanks for stopping by the Dr. Dental blog!

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