Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is a condition in which the salivary glands don’t make enough saliva to keep your mouth as lubricated as it should be.
Dry mouth is often due dehydration coming as a side effect of certain medications, aging issues, or as a result of radiation therapy for cancer. Less often, dry mouth may be caused by conditions that directly affect the salivary glands.
While occasional dry mouth is not unexpected, a consistently dry mouth can lead to a host of dental issues. At Bondi Dental, we’d like to introduce this condition to you, talk about what problems it can cause, and discuss ways to avoid or treat it.
Why worry about dry mouth?
Saliva helps control the acid that attacks your teeth, and is vital to your dental health. Saliva helps to break down food during chewing, making it easier to swallow. Some people have problems with swallowing when their saliva flow is affected.
Saliva is also an important part of the fight against tooth decay. Saliva fights the bacteria that form dental plaque and cause tooth decay and gum disease. Decreased saliva levels can affect the taste of food, ability to digest food, affect your speech, and result in bad breath.
Symptoms of dry mouth
- A sticky, dry feeling in the mouth
- Trouble chewing, swallowing, tasting or speaking
- A burning feeling in the mouth
- A dry feeling in the throat
- Cracked lips
- A dry, tough tongue
- Mouth sores
- An infection in the mouth
If you suffer from one or more of these symptoms, you should make an appointment to see your Bondi Dental dentist, as soon as possible.
Causes of dry mouth
Drugs. While some recreational drugs can cause dry mouth (e.g. methamphetamine
and marijuana), dry mouth is more often the result of prescription drugs. Estimates are that there are nearly 600 drugs for which dry mouth is a known side effect. That includes heavily used drugs such as gastrointestinal meds, blood pressure drugs, and drugs used to treat psychiatric disorders.
Aging. As we age, our salivary glands lose efficiency and we naturally produce less saliva, which can lead to dry mouth.
Dehydration. If you don’t provide your body enough water through your daily diet, your salivary glands will struggle to make enough saliva to keep your mouth clean and irrigated.
Breathing Issues. Issues with your sinuses or nasal septum—the barrier that separates your nose into two chambers—can cause difficulty breathing through your nose. This seems innocent enough, but mouth breathing is a major cause of dry mouth.
Cancer Treatments. Both radiation and chemotherapy can also cause dry mouth. There are other salivary gland-specific conditions that also cause extreme dry mouth. If you are undergoing treatment for cancer, or have any other health conditions, share them with your dentist.
Menopause. Women who are going through menopause may suffer from dry mouth. Women past menopause who are receiving hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may suffer from dry mouth.
Solutions for dry mouth
Many solutions to dry mouth can be practiced in daily life:
- Carry a water bottle with you and drink from it regularly..
- Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless hard candies containing xylitol.
- Limit your intake of caffeinated drinks, carbonated beverages, and alcoholic beverages. These beverages are all diuretic, meaning they remove water from your body and can impair saliva production.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day, and use dental floss or other inter-dental tools to remove food particles from between your teeth.
- Brush your teeth and use oral rinses that contain xylitol (and not alcohol).
- Make sure you get your teeth checked and cleaned twice a year to identify potential problems and treat them before they turn into something more serious.
You may not be able to entirely solve your dry mouth problem, but you’ll be able to deal with it by following these recommendations. And if the problem remains serious, Bondi Dental is here to help!
Your dentist is your partner in the fight against dry mouth
Your dentist gives you regular checkups, so they are familiar with your individual history and condition. The file your dentist keeps over time helps them identify the cause of your dry mouth and determine the best way to attack the cause and alleviate oral dryness.
The only permanent way to cure the dryness is to treat the cause.
The Bondi Dental Advantage
Bondi Dental is conveniently located in the Eastern Suburbs – Bondi Beach, Bondi in Sydney. Our group of dental professionals has combined experiences of over 60 years in all aspects of dentistry.
We offer high quality dental preventative, restorative, and cosmetic services for all patients in the region. Bondi Dental offers free parking at the rear of the building and FREE Dental Consultation including a complete dental check-up.
We are open 7 days a week 8am – 8pm!
- Dental Checkup
- Dental Implants
- Cosmetic Dentistry
- Smile Makeover
- Inman Aligner