Medication is the number one cause of xerostomia, most of the medicines that you take to treat high blood pressure, diabetes, even antidepressants cause dry mouth.
Dry mouth is a common side effect during and following cancer treatment. Several cancer medications and radiation therapy can cause decreased saliva production which can make it difficult to talk, chew, and swallow food. Symptoms of dry mouth include increased thirst, sore mouth and tongue, problems swallowing and talking, and taste changes. There are some things you can do to help control it. Here’s some advice that will help you manage the condition.
Causes of Dry Mouth
Have you started noticing that your mouth is dryer than it usually is? If so, it’s a good idea to address it with your dentist as your first step. There are many things that can cause it, and finding the root of the problem will help you come up with a more effective form of treatment.
Causes include side effects to certain medications, dehydration, smoking, breathing from the mouth, and certain diseases including Sjogren’s Syndrome and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Your dentist may also refer you to your doctor if he suspects that the cause of your dry mouth is a more serious underlying condition.
Signs, Symptoms and Treatment
People with dry mouth may have a dry feeling in the throat, mouth sores, bad breath, cracked lips, and a dry, rough tongue.
To ease the problem:
- Tell your dentist about all medications you take and if you have symptoms of mouth dryness. Your dentist may recommend using products with fluoride to help protect your teeth or give you a medication to help your body make saliva.
- Sip water, suck on sugarless candy or ice chips, chew sugarless gum, or try over-the-counter artificial saliva products to keep your mouth moist.
- Avoid drinks that contain caffeine and other items that dry your mouth. Among them: alcohol (even in mouthwash) and tobacco.
- Use a humidifier in your bedroom when you sleep.
Saliva not only helps defend against periodontal (gum) disease and tooth decay, but also helps in digesting and swallowing food, cuts bacteria levels in the mouth, and contains minerals that help renew the surface of the teeth.
Saliva also contains buffering agents, enzymes, and minerals that keep teeth strong and play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy environment in the mouth.
Without the cleansing and shielding effects of adequate salivary flow, tooth decay and gum disease become more common.
Adjust Your Oral Hygiene Routine
Another thing that can help control dry mouth is adjusting your oral hygiene habits and the products that you use. There are toothpastes, mouthwashes, and lozenges on the market designed to help combat dry mouth. You’ll want to review these with your dentist to make sure it’s a good idea for you to use them. If these products don’t work, there are also medications your dentist may want you to try.
Finally, you’ll also want to review your oral hygiene habits with your dentist to make sure you have the right technique. If your mouth isn’t producing as much saliva as it should, this could put you at an increased risk for tooth decay and gum disease, so you may need to tweak your existing routine. If your dental habits are solid, it can help prevent those issues from developing.