We all experience it at some point or another—a sticky, dry feeling in our mouth that makes it difficult to chew, speak, or swallow. Sometimes it can be relieved by a simple drink of water or sucking on some sugar-free candies. Other times, you may need to see a dentist in Lancaster, PA, like Dr. Kolsun at Hempfield Family Dental Care, to identify the cause of persistent dry mouth and prevent further complications that can affect your smile.
What Causes Dry Mouth?
Xerostomia, the medical term for dry mouth, is a condition where the salivary glands do not make enough saliva to keep your mouth wet. Saliva is an essential bodily fluid comprised of 99 percent water and less than one percent of other solids, like electrolytes, proteins, and enzymes. It not only aids in digestion and washes away food particles, but it also helps prevent tooth decay by neutralizing acids and limiting bacterial growth.
Some of the causes of dry mouth include:
- Certain medications, especially those used to treat depression, high blood pressure, anxiety, allergies, congestion, and pain
- Aging, due to inadequate nutrition, long-term health problems, or the body processing medication differently
- Nerve damage, particularly if you have had an injury to your head or neck
- Health issues, like diabetes stroke, thrush, Alzheimer’s Disease, and snoring
- Tobacco and alcohol use can increase your symptoms
- Recreational drug use, especially methamphetamines and marijuana
Symptoms of Dry Mouth
While only a professional can accurately diagnose dry mouth, xerostomia goes beyond just a lack of moisture in your mouth. You may also experience bad breath, trouble swallowing, hoarseness, or a dry, rough tongue. Additionally, you may notice a changed sense of taste, problems wearing dentures, or lipstick sticking to your teeth. If any of these symptoms are persistent and not quickly relieved, it is time to schedule an appointment with Dr. Kolsun at Hempfield Family Dental Care.
Oral Health Complications of Xerostomia
As we mentioned earlier, saliva is essential to proper dental health. A lack of saliva can lead to increased plaque, tooth decay, gum disease, and gingivitis. In addition, you may experience mouth sores, thrush, or cracked lips at the corner of your mouth. Plus, if you are having issues with chewing and swallowing, it may lead to poor nutrition, which can further complicate your health.
Improve Your Dental Health with Dry Mouth Treatments and Remedies
First, we need to identify the cause of your dry mouth. If a specific medication is causing it, it may be time to try a different medicine. You may need to decrease external stimulants—like drugs or alcohol—to help increase salivary production. Seeking treatment for snoring or using a room humidifier may help alleviate dry mouth at night, which typically worsens since salivary production is at its lowest point.
The second step in treating your dry mouth is relieving the discomfort. You can try prescription or over-the-counter mouthwashes approved by the American Dental Association (ADA). Other prescription treatments include artificial saliva, moisturizers, fluoride trays, or a chlorhexidine rinse. It is important to consult with your dentist since some of the OTC remedies can make the dry mouth and ulceration worse.
Finally, the third step in relieving your dry mouth is preventing complications. The basis of this step is proper dental hygiene, including brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day. In addition, get regular checkups and cleanings from your family dentist.
Home Remedies for Dry Mouth
In addition to the three steps above for treating your dry mouth, there are a few things you can try at home to help give you some relief. However, these are likely temporary solutions, so it is best to schedule an appointment with your dentist to help with long-term results. In the meantime, you can try some of these home remedies:
- Sipping on water or other sugar-free, caffeine-free drinks throughout the day
- Avoiding caffeine
- Chewing sugar-free gum (the xylitol in some sugar-free gums may help prevent cavities too)
- Breathing through your nose
- Avoiding products that make your dry mouth worse, like smoking or alcohol
- Sucking on ice chips
Schedule an Appointment with a Trusted Dentist in Lancaster, PA
When it comes to the frustration and embarrassment from your dry mouth problem, you need to visit a dentist with the experience to treat your symptoms. For over 30 years, Dr. Kolsun has been a trusted dentist in Lancaster, PA. He always strives to provide quality dental care, using innovative technology and addressing your dental health issues with care and compassion.
Please call Hempfield Family Dental Care to request an appointment with Dr. Kolsun to receive the highest quality dental care to manage your dry mouth symptoms and prevent further complications. Our staff is ready to serve you in a fun and friendly atmosphere, so please contact us today!