We all get a dry mouth occasionally, and it’s generally nothing to worry about. Maybe it’s due to dry winter air or allergies, sometimes it’s caused by anxiety or nervousness, and often, it’s just a sign that you’re thirsty. Occasional dry mouth is nothing to worry about, but chronic dry mouth, also called xerostomia, is not only uncomfortable, it’s a serious problem that can lead to gum disease and tooth decay. Our Fuquay-Varina family dentist is sharing some of the common causes and signs of dry mouth and how it can be treated so you can stop the annoying, uncomfortable symptoms and also prevent health problems that may arise.
Signs of Chronic Dry Mouth
A mouth that feels sticky and dry due to dehydration can easily be solved by drinking water and other fluids, bringing back normal saliva production within about a day at the most. However, xerostomia occurs when your salivary glands aren’t producing the appropriate levels of saliva, regardless of how much water or other fluids you drink. Signs you may have xerostomia includes:
- Mouth and throat feel dry and sticky, even shortly after drinking.
- Burning feeling in the mouth or on the tongue
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, or talking
- Dry, chapped lips
- Bad breath
- Sores in the mouth
- Irritated gums
If you experience any of these signs, it’s important to discuss these issues with your Fuquay-Varina dentist right away.
Long-Term Effects of Xerostomia
Xerostomia is more than just uncomfortable; not producing enough saliva is actually a health concern. Saliva protects the mucus membranes in your mouth that help keep you from getting sick, and it also helps clean the teeth of food particles and reduces plaque, so when your salivary glands aren’t functioning, you’re at a higher risk for cavities and tooth decay. Additionally, a consistently dry environment is irritating to soft, sensitive gum tissues, causing inflammation and possibly leading to gum disease.
Causes of a Chronic Dry Mouth
There are several possible causes to why your salivary glands aren’t productive enough. Again, the short-term causes like just being thirst or nervous are typically not cause for alarm. However, causes for xerostomia include:
- Autoimmune disorders, including Sjogren’s Syndrome
- Tobacco use
- Prescription medication use, including antidepressants, decongestants, anti-acne medication, and anti-inflammatory medication.
Your Fuquay Varina family dentist can diagnose you with xerostomia and provide you with solutions to minimize your dry mouth symptoms. If your dry mouth is caused by a prescription medication, you can discuss your diagnosis with your doctor to change your medication, or your dentist can give you medication or other treatment to improve the productivity of your salivary glands.
There are both prescription and over-the-counter medications that stimulate more saliva. If your salivary glands simply don’t produce enough to minimize discomfort, even with assistance, your dentist may suggest artificial saliva to keep your mouth and gums healthy.
Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Chronic Dry Mouth
While you may not be able to end your struggle with xerostomia without medical or dental intervention, there are multiple lifestyle changes you can make to improve salivary function in conjunction with treatment and reduce complications. These steps include:
- Stopping tobacco and alcohol use, both of which are drying to the mouth.
- Drinking water and staying hydrated
- Chewing sugar-free gum or eating sugar-free hard candy – citrus and mint are both good for stimulating saliva production.
- Avoiding foods high in sugar and acidity, like orange juice and tomatoes.
- Using a humidifier at night when you sleep.
- Avoiding a mouthwash with alcohol in it.
Contact Our Fuquay Varina Family Dentist for Dry Mouth Treatment
If you think you may have chronic dry mouth that is caused by something beyond thirst or nervousness, Hamby Family Dentistry in Fuquay-Varina can help! We can help you determine the cause of your dry mouth issues and work with you to create a treatment plan. Also, we can take your xerostomia into account when we look at your dental and oral health and work to prevent decay and gum disease.
To set up an appointment, call our office at (919) 552-2431 or fill out the contact form below to get started.