When you your salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva, it leads to a condition known as xerostomia. More commonly called dry mouth, this is a temporary and treatable condition.
Conditions Commonly Associated with Dry Mouth
Dry mouth is often a symptom of another health condition and not a condition itself. For example, people with diabetes have dry mouth more often than non-diabetics because it’s easier for them to become dehydrated. Other conditions most often associated with dry mouth include:
- Autoimmune disorders such as Sjogren’s syndrome
- Botulism poisoning
- Breathing through the mouth
- Medications such as antidepressants, antihistamines, and appetite suppressants
- Radiation therapy on the head or neck
- Smoking tobacco or marijuana
- Tranquilizer use
If you recognize any of these, we recommend that you start with some of the home remedies we describe below.
Treating Dry Mouth at Home
Dry mouth is temporary for most people, and you can normally find relief by trying one or more of these home remedies:
- Avoid smoking, caffeine, and alcohol
- Chew sugarless gum
- Go to sleep with a humidifier on in your bedroom
- Limit sugar and salt intake
- Purchase non-prescription saliva substitutes
- Sip water as often as possible
- Suck on ice cubes frequently throughout the day
- Suck on sugarless hard candy
- Use mouthwash, toothpaste, or mouth rinses made specifically for dry mouth
Be sure that you keep up with your regular oral hygiene routine, whether you have dry mouth or not. That includes brushing and flossing at least twice a day and visiting Southbridge Dentistry for a professional cleaning and preventive care exam every six months. Consistent oral healthcare is especially important when you have dry mouth since dry mouth increases the risk of developing gum disease.
If you feel an underlying disease could be causing the dry mouth, don’t hesitate to discuss it with your doctor. Besides diabetes and autoimmune disorders, other conditions with dry mouth as a symptom include Alzheimer’s, cystic fibrosis, HIV/AIDS, and oral thrush.
When to Schedule an Appointment with Southbridge Dentistry
Sometimes home remedies do little to eliminate dry mouth or aren’t effective at all. We recommend scheduling an appointment with us as soon as possible if you notice any of these symptoms:
- Bad breath
- Changes to your sense of taste
- Cracked lips
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- Persistent feeling of dryness in your throat or mouth
- Rough tongue
- Thick saliva
After learning more about your symptoms and completing an oral examination, your dentist may prescribe a medication specifically for dry mouth symptoms. These medications help to increase saliva production in the mouth. You should notice an improvement in your symptoms a short time after you start taking them. If not, let us know and your dentist will continue to try different solutions until your mouth returns to a normal level of moisture.
Remember that having adequate saliva is important. It helps break down your food so you can swallow it properly. Saliva also acts as a natural neutralizing agent against plaque, which can help ward off tooth decay.