- Dry, chapped lips
- Mouth feels dry or sticky
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking
- Burning sensation in mouth or throat
- Tongue dry, red, cracked, or bumpy
- Mouth sores
- Waking up at night with dry mouth
- Bad breath
- Dental decay
Dry Mouth – also called Xerostomia – is a common problem and can have a serious impact on quality of life. Dry Mouth occurs when salivary glands stop producing adequate amounts of saliva. The dry, sticky sensation can make it difficult to chew, swallow, or speak. It can also lead to detrimental health effects. Saliva helps moisten food to aid in swallowing and is the first phase in the process of food digestion. It also is essential in keeping our mouths healthy. Saliva helps protect teeth by buffering the acids and sugars that lead to tooth decay. It also helps prevent oral infections and gum disease by moderating bacterial growth. Without adequate amounts of saliva, we risk poor nutrition, severe dental decay, and debilitating oral infections.
DRY MOUTH SEVERITY
Dry Mouth symptoms can be mild and just an annoyance or quite debilitating. Many people are not aware they have a real problem until their saliva levels decrease by 50%. However, people with severe symptoms often suffer painful mouth sores and extensive tooth decay. Severe decay can lead to tooth loss; and reduced saliva can make it difficult to hold dentures or prosthetics in place.
DRY MOUTH CAUSES
Medication Side Effects: There are more than 400 common medications that can cause or worsen dry mouth, including medications used to treat allergy and cold symptoms, anti-anxiety or depression, heart disease and some pain relievers.
Cancer Treatments: Chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Other: Tobacco use, injury or nerve damage to the head/neck area, mouth breathing and snoring.
IF YOU HAVE DRY MOUTH…
- Tell your dentist and hygienist.
- Ask for help/advice.
- PROTECT YOUR TEETH!
- Strengthen teeth with FLUORIDE toothpaste and rinse. Your dentist may recommend a prescription Fluoride.
- Keep your teeth as clean as possible.
- Chew sugar free gum: this helps stimulate saliva flow and can help buffer acids in the mouth.
- Limit sugar and acid exposures (soda and energy drinks can be extremely detrimental to all teeth, but more so in patients with dry mouth).
- Saliva substitutes are available over the counter or by prescription and come in rinse, spray, or gel form.
- Sip water often throughout the day.
- Use lip moisturizer
- Add moisture to the air at night.
- AVOID things that worsen symptoms: caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, over-the-counter decongestants or antihistamines.