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The Affect of Dry Mouth on Teeth

Dry mouth is a fairly common condition clinically known as xerostomia.

Most people who have it experience it most strongly when they first awake.  Their mouths often feel dry, scratchy or sticky.  It is always uncomfortable and can lead to cracked and bleeding lips, sores on the sides of the mouth, difficulty speaking and horrible tooth decay and loss!

The Most Common Causes of Dry Mouth Are:

  1. Dehydration from not drinking enough water or from diabetes, which causes frequent urination
  2. Certain medications
  3. Medical treatments for cancer such as radiation and chemotherapy
  4. Certain medical conditions like Sjogren, cancer of the head or neck, Parkinson’s disease, HIV/AIDS
  5. Infection in the gums or mouth
  6. Nerve damage that affects the salivary glands
  7. Social habits like smoking, drinking, and recreational drugs, which significantly dry out oral tissues
  8. Excessive snoring or mouth-breathing

Solutions for Dry Mouth Can Include:

Medication Adjustment – If medication you are taking is causing your dry mouth, consult your doctor to adjust the dosage or change to another medication without that side effect.

Hydrate – Many cases of dry mouth will remedy themselves if you simply drink enough water to stay hydrated. This is especially important if the weather is very hot or very cold. To figure out the proper amount of water you should drink every day, divide your body weight in half and drink that number of ounces per day! To make this even more effective, replace any caffeine or soda drinks as both can dehydrate you with frequent urination.

Stop/Minimize Bad Habits – Excessive smoking and drinking can contribute to dry mouth. If dry mouth is a problem for you, cut down on alcohol consumption to no more than 2 drinks, 3-4 times a week. Also consider cutting out smoking altogether, as it comes with numerous health complications!

Chew Gum – Citrus, cinnamon, or mint-flavored gum helps stimulate saliva production.

Humidify – Many people with dry mouth wake up in the middle of the night so dry that they can’t speak. Using a humidifier in your bedroom at night can help.

RX Saliva Boost – Your dentist or doctor can give you a prescription for a medicine that can help boost your saliva production.

Artificial Saliva – There are several over-the-counter sprays and drops that are available at your local pharmacy and available from your dentist.

Resolving Breathing Problems – Block sinuses or deviated septums can actually cause some cases of dry mouth due to the decreased airflow through your nose. This causes you to mouth-breathe and can significantly dry out your mouth tissues. See an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor who can help you breathe correctly through your nose.

Protect Your Teeth

  • Brush teeth at least twice a day
  • Floss before you brush to get the maximum benefit
  • Use an anti-bacterial mouthwash
  • Rinse your mouth with water after every meal (or better yet, brush your teeth)

Dry mouth has many causes, but it also has many solutions! You are not doomed to a dry, uncomfortable mouth forever. For more information on how a dentist can help you fight dry mouth or to schedule an appointment, call our office today at (562) 434-6414.

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