In dentistry, the condition known as ‘dry mouth’ is a relatively common ailment. It occurs as a result of a lack of saliva in the mouth, and can have a significant detrimental impact on your dental health if left untreated.
Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, most often occurs when the mouth does not have sufficient saliva production in order to keep it moist. Saliva is a naturally-occurring substance in the mouth that serves to rinse away impurities in and around the teeth, tongue and oral cavity.
However, dry mouth can also occur as a result of several other factors. These can include the use of numerous over-the-counter and prescription medications; depression and anxiety; alcohol and tobacco consumption; hormonal changes in the body, such as the menopause and pregnancy; high blood pressure, and radiation treatments for the treatment of cancer around the head and neck.
Where dry mouth occurs, it can lead to conditions such as bad breath and tooth decay. This is due to insufficient quantities of saliva that help keep the mouth clean and free of bacteria which can cause these issues. Other dental and oral health conditions can arise as a result of untreated cases of dry mouth.
Many cases can be remedied without the intervention of a dentist, simply by stimulating saliva glands through chewing, keeping the mouth hydrated by drinking lots of water throughout the day, and avoiding breathing through the mouth. Changes in lifestyle, such as cutting down on alcohol consumption and tobacco smoking can also help to reduce the severity and effects of dry mouth.
However, there are occasions where dental help may be required to properly treat the condition. In order to provide appropriate treatment, the dentist will conduct a full dental examination and discuss with the patient their medical history so that the cause of dry mouth can be ascertained.
Treatments for dry mouth can include saliva substitutes, such as gels and mouth washes that help to replenish lost moisture in the mouth. Natural stimulation, rehydration and avoidance of alcohol and tobacco may also be recommended.
The dentist may also suggest the use of a mild toothpaste, or a toothpaste that has been specially formulated for dry mouth sufferers, as some pastes may contain elements that can exacerbate the symptoms of dry mouth.
If you are experiencing ongoing symptoms caused by dry mouth, contact the office of Dr. Howl today to learn more about your treatment options.