Dentist Explains Dry Mouth and What You Can Do

January 16, 2023

Dry dirt with water on the horizon For many, the first month of the year is known as “dry January,” a time when they abstain from alcohol as a reset after the excesses of the holiday season. But if you suffer from dry mouth, or xerostomia, the term can take on a whole other meaning. Fortunately, as part of family dentistry services, your dentist can treat dry mouth, offering various treatment options depending on the underlying cause.

At Seacliff Dental in Huntington Beach, CA, Dr. Jason Cellars provides compassionate treatment in a welcoming environment. In addition to treating xerostomia, he also offers restorative dentistry to address any dental damage caused by the condition. 

If you suffer from xerostomia, don’t let dry January turn into dry February or March! Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

What causes dry mouth?

There are a number of underlying causes of dry mouth. These include: 

  • Medications: Xerostomia can be a side effect of certain antidepressants, antihistamines, anticholinergics, medications for Parkinson’s, and chemotherapy. Radiation for head and neck cancer is particularly likely to cause dry mouth; it is estimated that 100% of patients undergoing such treatment also suffer from xerostomia.

  • An underlying health condition: Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, HIV/AIDS, and stroke can all cause dry mouth. Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease that specifically attacks the salivary glands, decreasing saliva production. 

  • Mouth breathing: Whether it is due to a stuffy nose or jaw alignment, mouth breathing can dry out the soft tissues.

Dry Mouth Symptoms

No matter the cause, dry mouth can result in a host of symptoms ranging from annoying to nearly debilitating. These include:

  • Dry feeling in the mouth and throat

  • Sore throat

  • Chronic bad breath

  • Hoarseness

  • Persistent thirst

  • Inability to taste properly

  • Poorly fitting dentures

  • Thick saliva

  • A burning sensation in the mouth

Long Term Consequences of Dry Mouth

Saliva plays an important role in dental health. It helps to wash away food and bacteria. Plus, by keeping your mouth moist, it helps with eating and speaking. Therefore, if you suffer from chronic dry mouth, you are at a higher risk for decay, gum disease, and other oral infections, such as thrush (a yeast infection).

How Your Dentist Can Help

First, Dr. Cellars will need to determine the underlying cause of your dry mouth. If medications are responsible, you should never stop taking your prescription without your physician’s approval. If it is not possible to change or reduce medications, your dentist can offer treatment to lessen this unpleasant side effect. If your xerostomia is the result of another health condition, Dr. Cellars can form part of a treatment team to ensure truly holistic care. 

Dry mouth treatments may include:

  • Moisturizing products: Both prescription and over-the-counter mouthwashes are available. 

  • Medications: Your dentist can also prescribe drugs that will stimulate your body’s production of saliva.

  • Lifestyle changes: On their own, or in conjunction with medication, lifestyle changes can make a big difference in dry mouth symptoms. Changes may include increasing fluid consumption, cutting out alcohol and smoking, chewing sugar free gum, or sucking on sugar free candies.

Of course, your dentist will also take a proactive approach to minimize the likelihood of dental damage due to dry mouth. 

Contact Your Huntington Beach Dentist 

If you are suffering from the symptoms of xerostomia, an appointment with your dentist could lead to significant relief, as well as an important health diagnosis. 

Schedule an appointment at Seacliff Dental online or call (714) 848-4247 today

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