Dry Mouth

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Ann Clark RDH 

Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)
Is due to inadequate function of the salivary glands.  It can be temporary due to stress, nervousness or being upset, but if it is continuous it can lead to serious health problems.  Your saliva works in your mouth to help:  talk, chew, spit, wash away food, lubricate for eating, buffers acids, remineralize tooth enamel, and to aid your taste buds.  When your salivary production shuts down your mouth is greatly affected. Saliva is needed to moisten the mouth and digest foods.  It keeps you healthy and prevents infection by controlling bacteria in the mouth.  It is essential to help you taste what you eat and drink.  If untreated, severe dry mouth can lead to increased levels of tooth decay or thrush, an infection of the mouth.
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Causes for Dry Mouth
Dry mouth is not a normal part of aging. Most often xerostomia is a side effect of the increased amounts of medications people take as they age. However, it can be a sign of a possible systemic disease like Sjogrens. Lots of times dry mouth is caused by the medications used to treat the ailment. These may include asthma, urinary incontinence, parkinson’s, epilepsy, stroke, mumps, alzheimer’s, diabetes, HIV, hepatitis C, lupus, arthritis, scleroderma, sarcoidosis, hypothyroidism, depression. The most common medications that cause dry mouth are related to high blood pressure, relaxants, depressants, heart disease, and antihistamines. Dehydration, fever, diarrhea, burns, exercise, blood loss, vomiting, radiation, menopause, surgical removal of glands and cigarettes can also cause dry mouth.
What can I do?
If dry mouth is effecting you it is critical to support your existing healthy oral pH. Dry mouth can cause an increased acidic environment which leads to a higher risk for dental decay. Here are some tips to help with dry mouth:
  • moisten the air overnight (humidifier)
  • avoid sugary and acidic foods
  • use Fluoride toothpaste
  • use Fluoride gel or rinse before bed
  • limit coffee
  • eliminate rinses with alcohol
  • stop tobacco use
  • drink water regularly
  • chew sugarfree gum over candy-the xylitol ingredient promotes production of saliva
  • breath through your nose
  • avoid histamines and decongestants
  • use OTC salivary substitutes: Mouth Kote and Oasis Moisturizing Mouth Spray contain xylitol. Cellulose containing products like Biotine Oral Balance
  • use rinses like Biotene or Act Total Dry Mouth
  • possibly alter your medication or dosage…always consult your medical doctor first.
  • visit your dentist regularly for exams, 2 exams per year
  • come in for your cleaning schedule treatment planned by your dentist

 

Want to learn more? Visit us at http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

 

Sources:

1. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dry-mouth/expert-answers/dry-mouth/faq-20058424

2. http://www.medicinenet.com/dry_mouth/article.htm

3. http://www.aquoral.com/

4. gnackdds.com for picture source 

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