(BPT) - You may have felt like your mouth is dry on occasion — on a hot day, when you’re thirsty, or maybe when you feel nervous before making a presentation at work. But if you're experiencing chronic dry mouth, it’s more than just a mild inconvenience or temporary unpleasant feeling. Dry mouth can lead to both medical and dental issues down the road.
Dry mouth (also known as xerostomia) occurs when the salivary glands in your mouth aren’t regularly producing enough saliva, drying out your mouth. And according to the Mayo Clinic, saliva fulfills important functions for your oral and dental health, such as washing away food particles, limiting bacterial growth and helping protect tooth enamel.
“Dry mouth is more than just a nuisance. Gone untreated, it can impact the health of teeth and gums,” said dental hygienist Julianne Souza. “Saliva production is really important because it neutralizes acids produced by bacteria, which in turn helps prevent tooth decay — and its enzymes also aid in the digestion of food. Dry mouth shouldn’t be ignored.”
Do you have dry mouth? You may, if you have one or more of these symptoms all or most of the time:
- Sore or dry throat
- Bad breath
- Difficulty speaking, chewing and/or swallowing
- An altered sense of taste
- A feeling of dryness or stickiness in your mouth
- Saliva that seems thick and stringy
- Dry or grooved tongue
- Problems wearing dentures
Why do you have dry mouth?
In some cases, dry mouth may be temporary. For example, if you are taking certain medications (for which dry mouth is listed as a side effect), your dry mouth should clear up when you are no longer taking the medication. Dry mouth can also be a result of undergoing cancer treatment such as chemotherapy, and should resolve when your treatment is completed.
Other causes for dry mouth include aging, nerve damage to the head or neck, plus health conditions including diabetes, stroke or yeast infection (thrush) in the mouth, to name a few. Some drug use, including tobacco and alcohol, can also increase dry mouth symptoms.
It’s best to talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing dry mouth, both to determine the cause and to help prevent further issues such as dental problems, mouth sores or difficulties eating and speaking.
Treatments for dry mouth
What can you do to alleviate the symptoms of dry mouth? Fortunately, there are a number of approaches you can try:
- Using Oracoat: For adults suffering from dry mouth symptoms, Oracoat is the dry mouth brand trusted by dental professionals that provides fast, convenient relief. Oracoat's unique oral adhering disc technology provides relief during the day, at night and while you are sleeping. It comes in a variety of great-tasting flavors, and in a wide variety of sizes. Visit www.oracoat.com to learn more.
- Chewing gum: Sugar-free chewing gum can encourage your mouth to produce more saliva, helping to protect your teeth and relieving your mouth from unpleasant dry mouth symptoms.
- Staying hydrated: Drinking plenty of water throughout your day can help you feel better, and helps to rinse out and wet your mouth.
- Using a humidifier: Especially if you live in a dry climate or during drier times of the year, an in-home humidifier can help the air around you — including the air you breathe in — stay more moist.
- Practicing good oral hygiene: To help prevent some of the issues dry mouth can cause, brushing and flossing your teeth a few times a day can help keep your teeth cleaner and prevent damage caused by plaque, bacteria and acid exposure.
To help determine if you are suffering from dry mouth, take the quick online assessment at Oracoat.com/dry-mouth-assessment.