It’s not uncommon to experience dry mouth, but did you know that it can affect your overall dental health? Fortunately, dry mouth alone is usually not a severe issue as long as it isn’t persistent.
What Is Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth, also called xerostomia, is a condition where the body does not produce enough saliva, characterized by a dry & often sticky feeling in the mouth. For the most part, it is just uncomfortable. Some people experience short-term dry mouth as a result of anxiety or stress; this kind of dry mouth is easily treatable & not a big concern. However, persistent dry mouth is often a sign of greater health issues that can cause larger problems & damage your teeth.
The various causes of dry mouth include stress & anxiety, dehydration, medication side effects, smoking, drinking alcohol, radiation therapy, diseases & infections, nerve damage & drug abuse. No matter the cause, your dentist can help address & treat your dry mouth.
If dry mouth is persistent, it can lead to various long-term health issues, ranging from irritating to serious. Chronic dry mouth will likely lead to mouth sores, splits at the corners of the mouth, cracked lips, increased plaque buildup & a greater risk of tooth decay & gum disease. Some people might even start to have nutrition issues, because the lack of saliva makes it more difficult to break down food when you eat.
Treating Dry Mouth
Even if your dry mouth does not seem to be persistent, it is important to stay on top of treating it. The good news is that in most cases treatment is simple. First, make sure you stay hydrated by sipping on water throughout the day. For your dental & overall health, you should drink lots of water anyway! Dehydration, which dry mouth can be a sign of, is a serious health risk.
Other simple things you can do to treat dry mouth include chewing sugar-free gum & limiting the salt, sugar & caffeinated drinks in your diet. Some people might recommend sucking on an ice cube or sugar-free hard candy, but this can actually damage your teeth, so don’t do it! You can also purchase nonprescription saliva substitutes over the counter.
If you use tobacco or drink alcohol, cut back on those or quit. Even if you don’t think smoking or drinking is the root cause, those activities can irritate a dry mouth, so you should try to limit them as much as possible.
The best treatment for dry mouth always depends on the specific cause, so if home remedies or over-the-counter solutions don’t prevent your dry mouth, it can indicate a more serious underlying health issue. Talk to your dentist if you have any questions about preventing or treating dry mouth!