Dry mouth (also called xerostomia) is both a common and overlooked condition. The common occurrences of dry mouth are caused by a number of relatively harmless triggers, such as mild dehydration, sleeping with an open mouth, and salty foods. More serious causes include autoimmune diseases, infections, uncontrolled diabetes, head and neck radiotherapy, and certain medications.
Regardless of what’s causing it, chronic dry mouth can result in increased odds of developing tooth decay, demineralization of teeth, oral infections, and tooth sensitivity. It can also make it difficult for one to taste, chew, swallow, and/or speak.
99% of our saliva is water. The other 1% is made up of calcium, proteins, enzymes, immunoglobulins, sodium, and potassium. In healthy people, saliva production ranges from .5 to 1.5 liters per day. It helps us digest food, makes chewing and swallowing possible, cleans the oral cavity, prevents demineralization, and helps maintain a neutral PH. When less than .5 liters of saliva is being produced daily, food is not being digested properly, allowing the development of tooth decay and other oral infections.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, make sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist today:
– Dry or sore throat
– Mouth sores
– Hoarse voice
– Chronic bad breath (also known as halitosis)
– Difficulty speaking, tasting, chewing, or swallowing
– Peeling or cracked lips
– A dry, burning feeling in the mouth
– Altered taste
Treatment for dry mouth varies, depending on the person, and should be discussed with your dentist. However, here are some lifestyle tips for dealing with some of the symptoms:
– Suck on ice chips
– Avoid salty or spicy foods
– Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco
– Use a humidifier
– Use lip lubricants
– Sip water
– Avoid sugary foods
– Brush your teeth gently with fluoridated toothpaste
– Floss daily
– Schedule dental visits at least twice per year