Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, isn’t merely a nuisance. It can actually be detrimental to your oral health. Saliva plays an important role in keeping your mouth healthy.
If you’ve noticed symptoms of dry mouth, you can get effective treatment. First, your dentist will assess your case to determine the cause of your dry mouth. This condition can occur for a number of different reasons, including the following:
- Medication side effects: Dry mouth is often the result of side effects of medications taken to treat some other health issue.
- Certain cancer treatments: Chemotherapy drugs can interfere with saliva production, as can radiation for head and neck cancers.
- Medical conditions: Dry mouth can be a symptom of various illnesses, including Sjogren’s disease and HIV/AIDS. Dry mouth can also result from snoring and sleeping with your mouth open. Nerve damage from an injury or a stroke can also affect the functioning of your salivary glands.
- Dehydration: Sometimes your mouth gets dry simply because you’re not drinking enough water.
- Drug or tobacco use: Certain illegal drugs and tobacco use can have a drying effect on the mouth. Alcohol will also dehydrate you, so this can be a factor in dry mouth, as well.
In evaluating your case, the dentist will ask you about all of these factors in order to determine the most effective treatment plan for you. That treatment plan may involve increasing your water intake or using an artificial saliva substitute to prevent dry mouth. Prescription and over-the-counter mouth rinses may also be helpful, and in some severe cases, the dentist may need to prescribe a medication that specifically stimulates saliva production. If medication side effects are contributing to your dry mouth, you may be advised to consult with your doctor to see if there are any alternatives to that medication.
You don’t have to suffer with dry mouth, and addressing the condition can actually be beneficial to your oral health. Dry mouth can increase your risk of developing tooth decay, gum disease and sores in the mouth, among other issues. Patients who are experiencing this symptom should schedule an appointment at our office to get an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.