Kenmore dentist Dr Rachel Hall explains the reasons why you get dry mouth and the options to treat this issue.
Do you notice that when you are thirsty your mouth feels dry? Chances are when this happens you drink some water and everything goes back to normal.
But did you know that for some people, this thirsty dry mouth feeling doesn’t go away?
Dry mouth (Xerostomia) is a common problem that many people, especially seniors, experience.
Dry mouth feels unpleasant but it can also lead to many other dental problems, such as tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath so it is important to treat dry mouth quickly.
Fortunately, there are many options for dry mouth treatment and at Evolve Dental Healing we stock K-Force products for dry mouth which include dry mouth gels, toothpaste, mouthwashes, lozenges and gums that are all designed to combat dry mouth and stimulate and improve saliva flow and quality.
What is Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth is exactly what it sounds like – a dry mouth, which is caused by a reduced flow of saliva.
Saliva plays a crucial role in killing bacteria in the mouth so dry mouth can actually lead to serious dental issues.
There are several possible causes for dry mouth – it could be the side effect of a medication you are on, a treatment you have undergone or a disease you currently have.
Alcohol (including alcohol in mouthwashes), smoking or chewing tobacco can also lead to dry mouth, or it could be as simple as dehydration.
However, it could also be a symptom of a more serious, underlying condition, such as nerve damage or an autoimmune disease.
Symptoms of dry mouth include:
Dry Mouth Treatments
If you experience these symptoms, you should consult your doctor or dentist. They will be able to help determine the cause of the problem. If the cause ends up being a medication you are currently taking or another medical condition, your doctor can work with you to come up with the best treatment as there are certain prescription drugs you can get that help increase the flow of saliva.
There are many over-the-counter medications available for purchase to treat dry mouth. There are some oral rinses specifically designed to stimulate saliva production that can be purchased or prescribed. An alternative to this is an over-the-counter saliva substitute.
Be aware a lot of these over-counter-products including mouthwashes can be very acidic which will harm your teeth so please consult your dentist or ask us here at Evolve Dental Healing what we recommend.
With or without medication, there are some items you probably already have in your home that can help treat dry mouth.
Water This is perhaps the most obvious solution, but drinking a lot of water will help add some moisture back into your mouth. Water also can help wash away any leftover food particles after eating that may cause decay – a job that saliva normally performs. You should also avoid any drinks containing caffeine, alcohol or acid (such as fruit juices) as these things can dry out your mouth. Substitute any drinks that fall into these categories with water.
Sugar-Free Gum or sweets Chewing on a piece of gum or sucking on a mint or sugar-free lozenge can help stimulate salivary glands, restoring some moisture to your mouth. Just be sure to only use sugar-free so that you are not adding any sticky decay-causing particles back into your mouth.
Moist Foods You can moisten up different foods by adding items such as broth, soup, sauce or gravy. Avoid salty, dry or high-in-sugar foods, as the former two will absorb moisture and the latter will increase your chance of decay.
Foods To Avoid If You Have Dry Mouth
If you are experiencing dry mouth avoid any sticky or sugary foods.
However, there are foods you can eat that can actually help treat dry mouth like celery, which is approximately 95% water. Chewing on a stick not only adds some water back into your mouth but also saliva as it stimulates salivary glands. Similar vegetables that may also be beneficial are iceberg lettuce and cucumbers. Certain spices, such as cayenne pepper, help bring moisture back into your body by stimulating salivary glands, sweat glands and tear ducts.
Other Solutions For Dry Mouth
Some other ways you can minimise dry mouth at home include:
The most important thing to remember if you have a dry mouth is to keep your mouth really clean. Without saliva in your mouth, you are at a much greater risk for tooth decay and other dental diseases.
Make sure you are brushing twice a day, flossing once a day and using an alcohol-free mouth rinse. If any complications do arise, contact us at Evolve Dental Healing immediately as we can help you to resolve the issues associated with dry mouth as soon as possible.
To find out if you have dry mouth or how to treat it call 07 3720 1811 to arrange a saliva screening test as part of a thorough oral and dental health assessment.