All of us have experienced dry mouth at one point or another. While an occasional bout may be normal, chronic dry mouth is not. Also known as xerostomia, chronic dry mouth occurs when the salivary glands produce less saliva than normal. If left untreated, chronic dry mouth can result in more than just an uncomfortable feeling – it can lead to serious health problems.
Dr. Mia Fitzgerald has years of experience treating an array of dental health issues, including dry mouth. Upon evaluating your symptoms and the root cause of your dry mouth, she can recommend a treatment plan that restores your mouth to its happiest and healthiest state.
The Importance of Saliva in Oral Health
Saliva is one of the unsung heroes in oral health. Not only does it keep your mouth moist and comfortable, it also helps break down the food you eat and helps you swallow. A natural cleanser, saliva rids your mouth and teeth of food particles, helping prevent tooth decay and infection in the mouth.
There are several factors that can lead to dry mouth, including stress and certain medications and health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke. When there’s not enough saliva in the mouth, the soft tissues become irritated and vulnerable to inflammation and infection. The tongue may become sensitive, a condition known as burning tongue syndrome. Lack of saliva makes it harder for your mouth to wash away food debris and neutralize acids produced by plaque, making you more susceptible to cavities and decay. Without the lubricating effect of saliva, you may have difficulty swallowing, your throat may become hoarse and sore, and your nasal passages may become dry.
Symptoms of Dry Mouth
Symptoms of dry mouth range from mild to severe. It’s very important that you schedule an appointment with your dentist if you experience any of the following symptoms on an ongoing basis:
- Insufficient saliva
- Chronic bad breath
- A dry, sticky mouth and/or throat
- Thick or stringy saliva
- A rough, dry tongue
- A burning sensation in the mouth (burning tongue)
- Sore throat
- Difficulty swallowing, chewing or talking
- Cracked lips, sores, split skin at the corners of mouth or other signs of dryness
- Altered sense of taste
- An infection in the mouth
There are a variety of treatment options for dry mouth that Dr. Fitzgerald may recommend depending on the cause and severity of the problem. Options include:
- Sugar-free candy or sugar-free gum specially formulated to stimulate saliva flow
- Artificial saliva (saliva substitute)
- Specially formulated oral rinses
- Oral moisturizers (sprays or gels)
- Oral prescription medications to induce saliva production
Dr. Fitzgerald will also evaluate your diet and lifestyle habits and make recommendations as needed. For instance, caffeine and alcohol are known to dehydrate you and dry the mouth. If you have chronic dry mouth, we suggest you limit your consumption of caffeine and alcohol, as well as tobacco products. If you have signs of severe dental damage caused by dry mouth, Dr. Fitzgerald may refer you to a specialist, such as a periodontist, to remedy the problem.
If you experience chronic dry mouth, schedule a consultation with Dr. Fitzgerald. The trusted dentist can evaluate your symptoms and recommend a treatment plan that best suits your needs. Contact our Sudbury office by calling or emailing us today.