Having a dry mouth can be infuriating and let’s face it quite uncomfortable, but what causes it?
There are many reasons you may have a dry mouth
- Simple dehydration – many of us are guilty of not drinking enough water and simply drinking more will help replenish our saliva and bring more comfort to our mouth – so think on and look at how much water you need.
- Age – as we get older the number and function of our salivary glands reduces. There is not a lot we can do about this except, see the poinst above, it is double important to keep hydrated so the fewer and smaller salivary glands don’t have to work too hard!
- Medication – certain treatments actually cause dehydration and dryness in the mouth. If this affects you then it is probably worth discussing with your doctor as an alternative medication may not have the same side effects.
- Diseases – if there is a problem with one of your major salivary glands, ten it may not function well enough and so not produce enough saliva. This will cause a dryness and there will also be other signs of disease present. Your dentist can quite easily check for function and if there is a problem.
- It can also be a sign of underlying undiagnosed disease so definitely worth discussing with your dentist in the first instance.
Does it matter if I have a dry mouth?
Apart from being quite uncomfortable a dry mouth can cause all sorts of dental problems. Saliva is useful to wash away debris and lubricate the soft tissues but saliva also has an important function to play in neutralising the acid environment in your mouth that is present after eating. If the acidity is not neutralised the teeth are at much more risk from decaying. We also see an increase in gum disease as saliva helps protect against that too.
- More tooth decay – particularly roort decay which is notoriously difficult to treat
- More gum disease
- Complaints of bad breath and a foul taste in the mouth
- Altered sensations
- Sore cheeks and ulcers where the lining of the mouth becomes traumatised
So what can I do to help reduce the risks and improve the dryness?
- Have medication checked out – if there is an alternative ask your doctor to prescribe that.
- Ensure you take in enough fluids each day and during the day.
- Protect your teeth by brushing regularly at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and ask your dentist if they recommend a higher level of fluoride toothpaste for you – these can be available on prescription and are a useful adjunct.
- Have regular dental hygiene visits to keep the gums healthy and maintained so problems are spotted early and treated.
- Ask your dentist to advise a suitable saliva substitute – there are sprays available to help ease the discomfort.
- Avoid using sweets to encourage the saliva flow and ease the discomfort – these will just leave you with further problems of extra decay – alternatively sugar free gum can be of use.
- Be alert to any swelling or change in the cheeks or under your jaw which may indicate a problem with one of the major salivary glands – any concerns, book an urgent appointment with your dentist.
A dry mouth can be really uncomfortable and can also be a sign of underling disease so don’t leave it undiagnosed. Talk to your dentist who will help you decided what the cause is, and, if necessary, will arrange the appropriate treatment or referral.
For more information on dry mouth treatment or to book an appointment call us on 0161 928 0014.