Are you frequently thirsty with a sticky, dry feeling in the mouth? During these cold winter months when the air is dry and many have colds and other viruses, you may have a condition called dry mouth.
Dry mouth, also known by its formal name “xerostomia,” is a condition in which your mouth becomes unusually dry, most often because of a decrease in the production of saliva by the salivary glands. The condition can lead to bad breath, tooth decay, periodontal disease and even candidiasis infection because the oral microflora are disturbed.
What Causes Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth can be caused by several things, including:
- Medications, such as antihistamines and antidepressants
- Medical conditions (for example, poorly controlled diabetes)
- Drinking alcohol
- Spicy foods
- Sleeping with your mouth open
What Damage Can Dry Mouth Cause?
A recent study found that sleeping with your mouth open can be as damaging for your teeth as drinking a fizzy soda before bed.
When your mouth is dry, the protective effect of saliva is removed. Why does this matter? Saliva has the natural ability to kill the bacteria in the mouth that produce acid. When acid levels in the mouth rise, that is when tooth decay and erosion occurs.
Treating Dry Mouth
If you’re experiencing dry mouth due to a certain medication, talk to your physician about changing the medication or decreasing the dosage. In addition, talk to your dentist about the condition. There are oral rinses that can increase mouth moisture, and there is also a medication that can increase saliva production.
Other things you can try to reduce dry mouth include:
- Sucking on sugar-free candy or chewing sugar-free gum
- Drinking water
- Breathing through your nose instead of your mouth as much s possible
- Using vaporizers to increase moisture in the air
And, most importantly, always brush with a fluoride toothpaste, floss and visit your dentist regularly. If you have questions about dry mouth, please call Enlighten Dental Care at (336) 765-0904.