Most of us take saliva for granted and even look at it as a nuisance, but when your salivary glands don't produce enough saliva, problems can occur. Saliva is important to the health of our teeth and gums. It helps with digestion and plays an important role in oral health by washing away food and bacteria from our teeth. Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is a condition in which inadequate saliva is produced. Dry mouth doesn't have to be a problem. The Dental Associates of New England, a Boston cosmetic dentistry practice, has expert dentists ready to treat your dry mouth problems. Here is an overview of dry mouth treatments for our Boston area patients.
What Causes Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth occurs when the salivary glands fail to produce enough saliva. This condition has a number of causes. Some of these causes are:
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Disease and infection
- Removal of the salivary glands
What Are the Symptoms of Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth can be very uncomfortable and leave an unpleasant feeling in your mouth. You may be suffering from dry mouth if you are experiencing one or more of the following symptoms:
- You're often thirsty
- Your mouth feels dry
- You have a sticky feeling in your mouth
- Your tongue is dry and raw
- Your mouth and tongue burn
- You have sores in your mouth
- Your lips are cracked and/or the corners of your mouth are split
- Your throat feels dry, hoarse, or sore
- Your nasal passages feel dry
- You find it difficult to chew, swallow, and taste foods
- You suffer from bad breath
What Are the Problems Caused by Dry Mouth?
All of the symptoms of dry mouth can be seen as problems, as they are either painful or just uncomfortable. There are also other, more serious, oral health problems that can occur from dry mouth. Saliva helps reduce bacteria in our mouths and wash away food from our teeth. Without adequate saliva, as is the case with dry mouth, bacteria and food are left to cause tooth decay. For many of our patients in Boston, dental crowns and fillings are needed to treat teeth that have been damaged as a result of dry mouth. Decay will lead to cavities and even tooth loss. Dry mouth can also cause gum disease. If left untreated, gum disease can result in tooth loss and bone damage.
What Are my Treatment Options?
There are treatments available for dry mouth and steps you can take to ease this condition. Here are some of those steps:
- If you are taking a medication that causes dry mouth, speak to your doctor about trying a different medication or adjusting your dosage.
- Chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free candy.
- Add moisture to the air in your home with a vaporizer.
- Keep your mouth hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
- Try one of the many over-the-counter saliva substitutes.
Find relief for dry mouth through any one of our friendly, experienced dentists. Contact the Dental Associates of New England today.