Dry mouth isn’t merely a nuisance. When you don’t make enough saliva on your own, it can actually put your oral health at risk. Saliva helps to sweep bacteria away from your mouth, where they can cause issues like cavities and gum disease. Therefore, inadequate saliva production can increase your risk for oral diseases.
In recommending interventions to address dry mouth, your dentist will first need to determine the cause in your specific case. Dry mouth can be caused by a number of factors, including the following:
Dehydration: If you are not drinking enough water, it will be more difficult for your salivary glands to produce saliva.
Medication side effects: Many medications have dry mouth as a side effect, including anti-cholinergics and some psychotropic medications. If you notice that your mouth has gotten drier since you’ve started a medication, it may be the culprit.
Cancer treatments: Chemotherapy often causes dry mouth, as do radiation treatments for head and neck cancers. In the latter case, the dry mouth may be a permanent issue if the radiation has altered the salivary glands.
Smoking: This habit can reduce the amount of saliva that you make.
Diseases: Some autoimmune diseases, including Sjorgen’s syndrome and HIV/AIDS can cause dry mouth.
Nerve damage: If you have suffered an injury that caused nerve damage, your saliva production can be negatively affected.
After your dentist has assessed your case and pinpointed the cause of your dry mouth, you can move forward with fixing the problem. The dentist may recommend that you talk to your doctor about other medications that can be substituted for the one that is causing your dry mouth.
For patients whose dry mouth is related to dehydration, a conscientious effort to drink more water throughout the day can resolve the issue. It may also be helpful to limit caffeine consumption, as that can contribute to dehydration.
Artificial saliva substitutes or specially formulated mouthwashes are useful for patients who experience dry mouth as the result of a disease or a treatment that can’t be adjusted. Also, sucking on lozenges or hard candies (sugar-free, of course!) can help to stimulate your salivary glands.
Don’t suffer with dry mouth, as it can compromise your oral health. Effective treatments are available, so if you have this problem, call the office of Dr. Mark E. Massaro at 918-779-3399 to learn more about how you can address it.
Mark E. Massaro, DDS
3150 East 41st Street
Wellington Square Suite 141
Tulsa, OK 74105
Dr. Mark Massaro is a Tulsa, OK dental professional dedicated to General, Family & Cosmetic Dentistry such as Dental Exams, Cleanings, X-rays, Smile Makeovers, Zoom Teeth Whitening, Lumineers, Crowns, & more.