Saliva production is important, not only for the digestion of the food we eat, but also to cleanse and moisten our mouths. Saliva is also important to help prevent infection by controlling bacteria and fungi in the mouth. We don’t think much about what would happen if we did not have enough saliva production, but it affects thousands of people every day. The majority of us produce enough saliva to prevent any problems, but what happens if we are unable to produce enough saliva?
When we are unable to produce enough, our mouth gets dry (xerostomia) and uncomfortable. Is it a condition we are destined to live with, or are their effective treatments for a dry mouth?
Let’s look at some of the causes of dry mouth:
- Certain medications
- Certain diseases
- Certain medical treatments
- Nerve damage
- Surgical removal of salivary glands
- A sticky, dry feeling in the mouth
- Frequent thirst
- Sores in the mouth; sores or split skin at the corners of the mouth; cracked lips
- A dry feeling in the throat
- A burning or tingling sensation in the mouth and especially on the tongue
- A dry, red, raw tongue
- Problems speaking or difficulty tasting, chewing, and swallowing
- Hoarseness, dry nasal passages, sore throat
- Bad breath
If you think your dry mouth is caused by certain medication you are taking, talk to your primary physician. They may adjust the dose you are taking or switch you to a different drug that doesn’t cause dry mouth. In addition, an oral rinse to restore mouth moisture may be prescribed. If that doesn’t help a medication that stimulates saliva production may be prescribed.
- Sucking on sugar-free candy or chewing sugar-free gum
- Drinking plenty of water to help keep your mouth moist
- Protecting your teeth by brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, using a fluoride rinse, and visiting your dentist regularly
- Breathing through your nose, not your mouth, as much as possible
- Using a room vaporizer to add moisture to the bedroom air
- Using an over-the-counter artificial saliva substitute
If dry mouth is a problem, there are solutions. Talk to our team of service professionals at your next visit and we will be happy to help you.