|Dr. Alan Wishneff D.D.S.
Restorative Dentistry / Oral Health
November 17, 2014
Saliva in the mouth works to help moisten and cleanse the mouth along with digesting the food we eat. Saliva can also prevent infections in the body by controlling bacteria and fungi in the mouth. When there is not enough saliva being produced, the mouth can get very dry, uncomfortable and dental problems can arise. When saliva is not around to wash away bacteria in the mouth, tooth decay can form.
Dry mouth is scientifically known as xerostomia. There are several causes for dry mouth and the following are a few of them.
- Side effects from medications: Many prescribed and nonprescription drugs can cause dry mouth. Some of the drugs that have this side effect are ones that treat depression, pain, allergies, colds, Parkinson’s and many more.
- Disease and infection side effects: Medical conditions, including HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, anemia, stroke and many others can cause dry mouth.
- Medical treatment side effects: When radiation of the head and neck or chemotherapy is needed to treat a disease, the salivary glands can become damaged. The salivary glands are the glands that produce saliva in the mouth. When the glands are damaged, there is usually a decrease in the amount of saliva that is produced.
- Nerve damage: Damage to the nerves in the head and neck area from an injury or surgery can cause dry mouth.
- Dehydration: If one becomes dehydrated due to fever, excessive sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, blood loss and burns, dry mouth can occur.
- Lifestyle: Smoking and chewing tobacco can affect the saliva production. Breathing through your open mouth will also contribute to dry mouth.
- Surgical removal of the salivary glands.
Dry mouth has many common symptoms associated with it. One of the biggest problems or symptoms that dry mouth causes is an increase in the risk of gingivitis, tooth decay and mouth infections. The following are a few of the other symptoms.
- Frequent thirst.
- A sticky dry feeling in the mouth.
- Mouth sores, split skin at corners of the mouth and cracked lips.
- Dry feeling in the throat.
- Dry and red tongue.
- A burning or tingling sensation in the mouth and tongue.
- Problems speaking or difficulty tasting, chewing and swallowing.
- Bad breath.
- Hoarseness, dry nasal passages and sore throats.
If you feel that you are experiencing dry mouth and it might be caused by your medication, talk to your doctor about it. They might be able to change the dosage or give you a different form of the medication. Prescribed oral rinses are available that can help restore the moisture in the mouth. There are also medications on the market that will stimulate the saliva production. Ask your doctor about these options to see which is best for you.
There are some things that can be done at home to help improve saliva flow:
- Chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free candies.
- To help keep the mouth moist, drink plenty of water daily.
- Protect your teeth by brushing with fluoride toothpaste, rinse and floss. Also visit your dentist regularly.
- Try breathing through your nose instead of your mouth as much as possible.
- A room vaporizer will add moisture to the bedroom air.
- Over the counter artificial saliva substitutes are available.
For more information about this topic or any other dental topic, contact Dr.Wishneff at [email protected]or call (561) 488-3111. Dr. Alan Wishneff is a Boca Raton Dentist dedicated to bringing patients state-of-the-art dental care. As a cosmetic, family and restorative dentist, he helps patients enjoy a natural and healthy smile. He is trained in cosmetic dentistry, including porcelain veneers; advanced cosmetic bonding techniques; oral surgery; medical emergency procedures; advanced crown and bridge; advanced TMJ; implant dentistry; endodontics-root canals: utilization of most advanced dental materials. Dr, Wishneff and staff are dedicated to providing great smiles in Boca Raton for more than 30 years. After more than two decades of practicing dentistry in Boca Raton, Dr. Wishneff is more committed than ever to this community.