Dry mouth is a condition characterized by a lack of enough saliva in the mouth to keep it wet. The medical term for this is xerostomia. Often there is a sticky or burning feeling in the mouth, and the throat may feel dry also, with swallowing difficulties and choking risks. Cracked lips, rough tongue and mouth sores can also result from a dry mouth. Xerostomia can can also cause dentures or removable partials to fit poorly or hurt.
Nearly everyone has experienced a dry mouth from time to time, especially when they’re nervous, under stress or when taking certain medications. Yet, when the condition is chronic, it can make eating, swallowing and talking uncomfortable, and having a dry mouth can also increase the risk for tooth decay. Saliva actually helps control bacteria, fungi and viruses in the mouth and assists in preventing infection. In addition to aiding with chewing and swallowing, saliva is important for food digestion and even taste.
Many things can affect the salivary glands from producing adequate saliva. A few of these causes are:
- Many prescription medications and certain cancer treatments
- Diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, or Sjogren’s syndrome (a common autoimmune disorder, especially with women in their late 50’s)
- Injury to the head or neck which damages nerves, resulting in lack of communication with the salivary glands
It’s important to see a dentist to discover the cause, and to receive recommendations for appropriate treatment.
Certain steps can alleviate the symptoms including drinking plenty of water, chewing sugarless gum, and using a humidifier at night to increase moisture in the air during sleep. Avoid smoking, sugary drinks and food, and caffeinated beverages, which can all dry out the mouth. Steer clear of alcohol, including mouthwashes containing it.
When you have dry mouth, it’s vital to visit your dentist for regular examinations and to practice good oral care at home to keep your mouth healthy. If you are suffering from dry mouth and would like to determine the cause of it and treatment for it, Dr. Heidi Finkelstein at My Plantation Dentist can help. To schedule your appointment for an examination, please contact us today at 954-584-1030.