• Dry Mouth: Causes and Prevention

    Dry Mouth: Causes and Prevention

    Imagine being thirsty. Now imagine being really thirsty all of the time. Like really, really thirsty. What you’re experiencing can be xerostomia or “dry mouth” and it affects around 65% of the world’s population. 

    Dry mouth occurs when your mouth doesn’t produce enough saliva, leaving your mouth feeling dry and itchy from a lack of moisture.

     

    Is This a Big Deal?

    Now, you may be thinking to yourself – “Other than the uncontrollable sensation of endless thirst, how is a lack of saliva a problem? Saliva is pretty disgusting most of the time.”

    Well, the truth is that saliva is one of the more important parts of your digestive system and crucial to the health and well being of your teeth. Your mouth needs saliva to break down the acids and sugars that, if left unchecked, will happily eat away at the enamel in your teeth. This can get even worse in particularly bad cases of dry mouth, where the acids become concentrated as a result of not being affected by the presence of any saliva. 

    Saliva also helps out in the lubrication department as well, aiding the tongue and gums and preventing them from becoming swollen and inflamed. 

     

    How Does This Happen?

    Dry mouth can occur from a variety of sources:

    • Excess fluid loss from illness such as cases of diarrhea and stomach bugs 
    • Mouth breathing
    • Diabetes
    • Medications for high blood pressure, allergies and Parkinson’s disease
    • Dermatological treatments such as Roaccutane
    • Ageing

    Treatments

    For the most part, treating dry mouth can be a simple affair and usually focuses on trying to generate more saliva. 

    • Sucking or chewing on sugar-free mints and gum can be great for dry mouth because it stimulates the body to produce more saliva in anticipation of food. Sugar-free flavours will work best as the additional sugar/acid will not further contribute to decay. 
    • Drinking water sounds pretty obvious, but that’s because it is! Drinking water helps with lubrication and keeping moisture in the mouth while also diluting the acids present in the mouth.
    • Diuretic foods/drinks such as coffee and soft drinks that contain caffeine can also lessen your salivary flow. This also applies to salty foods that break down moisture and increase the acidity level inside the mouth. Try to avoid these if you’re facing dry mouth dramas.

    If you’re taking medication then it’s also probably a good idea to see your doctor and have a quick chat about how your medication may be affecting you (and how to treat it of course.)

    If left alone, having a dry mouth can seriously affect your dental health and cause more serious problems in the future. So it’s probably best to see your local Moores Pocket emergency dentist for a check-up and see what your options are. 

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