From time to time, everyone feels like their mouth is dry. People who feel like this never goes away, suffer from dry mouth or xerostomia. Some common complaints of people with xerostomia are: sticky or dry feeling in their mouth and on their tongue, cracked/dry lips, gum irritations, bad breath, higher rate of tooth decay. The decay associated with xerostomia is much more aggressive and attacks areas that are difficult to treat. Salvia provides teeth with minerals they need to stay strong. With the lack of salivary flow, teeth cannot “wash” themselves to reduce acids and do not receive the coat of minerals healthy teeth need. Medications induced xerostomia is very prevalent now in our patient population and can be a very serious condition creating problems in our patient’s oral health.
There are many causes for dry mouth. It is very common side effect for many medications. Dehydration, smoking, aging, cancer treatments, and some auto-immune diseases like Sjogren’s disease also cause dry mouth symptoms.
What can you do to help?
- Stay hydrated by drinking water frequently
- Sugar free gum and lozenges will stimulate saliva production. Use gum and lozenges made with xylitol. Cinnamon, citrus or mint flavors are the best for increased saliva flow. Spry is one brand that makes products with xylitol.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages and alcohol based mouthwash
- Avoid smoking.
- Avoid foods and drinks that contain caffeine.
- Limit intake of sugary foods and drinks that will increase tooth decay.
- Make fluoride toothpaste, mouth rinse and fluoride treatments in our office part of your care.
- Try over the counter saliva substitutes. Mouth-Kote, Biotene and Oasis have products that can help.
- In office fluoride treatments during your dental visits and/or fluoride trays for home fluoride treatments can help prevent higher rates of decay.