Imagine the inside of your mouth feeling like it’s been wiped dry with cotton balls, and no matter how hard you try to summon some saliva, it simply refuses to materialize. Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is a common topic of discussion for the average family dentist, because those suffering from dry mouth often seek advice from their dentist. Dry mouth is a very frustrating condition with a wide variety of causes. Knowing that millions of people battle dry mouth is little comfort to those who suffer from it. The first step in fighting dry mouth is determining the cause of your condition.
Common causes of dry mouth include:
- Medications – over 400 medications list dry mouth as a possible side effect! From antihistamines to antidepressants, decongestants to diuretics, medications are the most common cause of dry mouth. If you are temporarily taking a medication (to fight the flu, for instance), your dry mouth will likely go away once you get healthy and stop taking the medication. However, if you are on long-term medication, ask your doctor if an alternative medication might work just as well, but without the dry mouth side effect.
- Medical treatments – unfortunately, dry mouth is an extremely common side effect of radiation and chemotherapy patients. If you are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment, ask your doctor for specific advice about fighting your dry mouth.
- Illnesses – dry mouth can be an indication of diabetes or various autoimmune diseases such as AIDS. People with Alzheimer’s and those who have had a stroke have been known to experience dry mouth as well. If you have any concerns about your health, seek advice from your physician immediately.
It is important to address dry mouth, because when the salivary glands produce less saliva than normal, the mouth’s natural defenses against tooth decay and other oral health problems are weakened. These are your family dentist’s top tips for fighting dry mouth:
- Brush and floss twice daily, and use alcohol-free mouthwash
- Avoid alcohol, carbonated beverages, and acidic juices
- Drink more water
- Avoid dry or salty foods
- Do not smoke
- If you chew gum, choose sugarless gum
- Visit your dentist regularly
If following these guidelines does not adequately address your dry mouth problem, your family dentist may prescribe artificial saliva to help keep your teeth and gums healthy. If you have questions about dry mouth, Dr. Loper, your family dentist in Reynoldsburg OH, encourages you to make an appointment today by calling 614-864-7731.