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Dry Mouth: What Causes It and Why It's Bad for Dental Health

By Eugene D. Stanislaus on July 10, 2014


A patient at a dentist's officeThe team at Brooklyn Heights Dental® takes all dental problems seriously, even issues that seem relatively minor. This is because we are committed to advanced general dental care and restorative dentistry with a focus on wellness as well as aesthetics. One dental health issue that seems minor but needs to be taken seriously is dry mouth, which we'd like to look at right now.

About Dry Mouth

Also known as xerostomia, dry mouth refers to the lack of moisture in a person's mouth.

Why Dry Mouth Is More Than Just an Annoyance

When you suffer from dry mouth, you obviously will notice problems with speaking and eating, which can be an inconvenience. But dry mouth leads to more problems than that.

For one, dry mouth makes bad breath worse. Without saliva in the mouth, there is nothing to remove dead cells from the tongue and the insides of the cheeks, allowing these tissues to fester.

The saliva actually helps remineralize the teeth and protect your tooth enamel from the effects of oral bacteria and tooth decay. Without saliva, the bacteria in the mouth is given an opportunity to thrive and do more damage to your teeth. Saliva also prevents sores in the mouth and tiny splits at the corners of the mouth.

Common Causes of Dry Mouth

The most common causes of dry mouth include the following:

  • Blockage of the salivary glands - Sometimes the salivary glands can become backed up, leading to dry mouth
  • Dehydration - If you aren't hydrating properly, you're sure to notice it when your mouth is dry
  • Stress and anxiety - If you're feeling nervous or worried, a sure sign of it is a lack of moisture in the mouth
  • A side effect of certain medication - Anti-depressants, anxiety medication, allergy drugs, and other medications can all cause your mouth to feel cottony
  • A side effect of certain systemic conditions - Medical problems from diabetes and high blood pressure to Parkinson's and Alzheimer's can cause your mouth to dry out
  • Injury or nerve damage - Injury to the mouth or head can lead to problems with saliva production
  • Use of tobacco products - Smoking and the use of chewing tobacco can both have a negative effect on the level of moisture in your mouth
  • The natural aging process - With advanced age, it's not uncommon for people to experience dry mouth

Diagnosing and Treating Dry Mouth

When it comes to treating your dry mouth, it's important that the root cause of the dry mouth be identified first. The root cause of the problem needs to be addressed, and in the case of systemic diseases, that means professional medical care.

If your dry mouth is the result of blocked salivary glands, one common treatment to consider is sucking on sour candies. This promotes saliva production and can help dislodge the blockage in the salivary glands.

If you have persistent dry mouth as a result of injury, nerve damage, or advanced age, there are artificial saliva products on the market that can prove quite helpful. These mouth moisture products come in spray, gel, and lozenge form, and the ideal one for your needs can be discussed during your consultation.

Tips for Preventing Dry Mouth

Here are a few things that you can do to prevent or reduce dry mouth:

  • Stay well-hydrated with water through the day
  • Quit smoking or using tobacco products
  • Chew on sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free candy to promote saliva production
  • Avoid breathing through your mouth

Schedule a Consultation to Treat Your Dry Mouth

For more information about dry mouth and how it can affect your overall dental health and wellness, it's important that you schedule a consultation at Brooklyn Heights Dental®. To meet with Dr. Eugene D. Stanislaus and Dr. Lisa Reid, contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry center today. The entire team looks forward to your visit and discussing your options for advanced dental care.

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