Saliva is the body’s natural way of cleansing the mouth and teeth. Because of the pH level present in saliva, it can neutralize harmful acids that damage tooth enamel and rinse away leftover food particles while controlling bacterial and fungal growth in the mouth. Some patients suffer dry mouth, which can affect oral and dental health negatively and increase a patient’s risk for tooth decay and gum disease. Our dentist helps determine the underlying cause of dry mouth and offers treatment for this oral health condition.
Causes of Dry Mouth
The clinical term for dry mouth is xerostomia. A common contributor to dry mouth is medications. Over the counter and prescription medications can decrease saliva production. Common medications that cause xerostomia include:
- Allergy medication
- Depression and anti-anxiety medication
- Medications for acne and skin disorders
- Anti-histamines and decongestants
- Medications used to treat epilepsy
Other contributors to dry mouth include diseases such as Alzheimer’s, HIV, diabetes, anemia, and many autoimmune disorders including rheumatoid arthritis. In some cases, dehydration is a factor that causes dry mouth. Lifestyle habits like smoking affects saliva production, too.
Dry Mouth Symptoms
Common dry mouth symptoms include cracked lips and persistent sores on soft tissues inside the mouth and along the lips. Dryness of the nasal passages and throat along with a hoarse voice are typical symptoms as well.
Treatment for Xerostomia
The first step in treating dry mouth is determining the underlying cause of diminished saliva production. Our dentist will ask questions about your lifestyle, overall health, and use of prescription and non-prescription medications. Your primary physician may need to adjust your medication to help increase saliva production. Prescription mouth rinses and medication may be used to keep the mouth moist and help prevent the likelihood of developing dental conditions.
Some patients may benefit from altering their lifestyle habits. Using a humidifier to dampen air while sleeping along with chewing sugar-free gum during the day can help keep the mouth moist.
To schedule an appointment with our dentists and compassionate team, contact us today.