Xerostomia, commonly called “dry mouth”, is a common symptom that affects many people and can have varying effects on oral health. The causes of dry mouth do vary as well. If you suffer with dry mouth on a consistent basis, we recommend that you bring this up with our dentist at your next appointment. During your appointment, we might inquire about lifestyle habits and which medications and supplements you take to help narrow down the underlying cause of dry mouth. In many cases, xerostomia is exacerbated by medical conditions, common medications, and lifestyle habits.
More than likely, dry mouth is a sign of another issue. Sometimes, patients who take anti-histamines to fight allergies or other medications such as anti-depressants will suffer from dry mouth. Medical conditions like diabetes contribute to xerostomia as well. Both medical conditions and medication can affect the production of saliva and subsequently cause one to experience dry mouth.
Lifestyle choices such as drinking alcohol, inadequate water consumption, and smoking cigarettes also contribute to insufficient saliva production.
The Importance of Saliva
Saliva production is very important to maintaining healthy teeth and gums. We like to think of saliva as nature’s way of rinsing the mouth. Saliva can help patients swallow small particles of food and it can dilute acidic compounds, which weaken tooth enamel. Soft oral tissues such as the gums and linings of cheeks benefit from saliva production as well. It is important for these tissues to remain moist. Patients with persistent dry mouth typically have a higher incidence of gum disease and tooth decay.
The first line of treating dry mouth is to evaluate a patient’s lifestyle habits. If patients drink or smoke, our dentist will likely recommend abstaining from these substances. Adequate hydration is also important. We encourage patients to drink at least 64-ounces of water daily.
Since diminished saliva affects the health of teeth and gums, patients should practice very thorough oral hygiene including daily flossing and twice-daily brushing. Scheduling regular dental cleanings and checkups will also help safeguard oral health.
Contact Anderson Dentistry at either of our convenient locations today to schedule a checkup or cleaning.