Causes and Treatments of Xerostomia

DFW dentistsAlthough xerostomia might sound like the name of some horrible rare disease, it’s actually quite common. Xerostomia, better known as dry mouth, can have serious consequences, nonetheless.

Xerostomia occurs when patients have an insufficient amount of saliva in the mouth. Dentists often hear patients complain of dry mouth when those patients are taking certain medications like anti-depressants or blood pressure medicine. Diseases or medical treatments, like radiation for head and neck cancers, can also have this side effect. Sometimes the cause is simple dehydration.

The top dentists serving DFW can offer a variety of treatments for dry mouth. One particularly simple, inexpensive and often effective intervention may be for the patient to increase his or her water consumption. However, this will only work if dehydration is the culprit behind the dry mouth.

Sucking on candy or chewing gum (both sugar-free of course!) can also help to stimulate saliva production.

Smoking can exacerbate dry mouth, so patients with this condition should consider giving up their cigarettes, too.

Patients can also take steps to reduce dryness in the air by bringing humidifiers into their homes.

Patients who get no relief from any of the strategies described above may need to turn to an artificial saliva replacement to eliminate dry mouth.

When the dentist identifies a medication that is causing xerostomia, the patient may approach the doctor to see if there are any alternatives to that drug.

If you fail to address your dry mouth, your mouth loses a natural mechanism for clearing away potentially harmful oral bacteria. Many of us think that brushing and flossing alone will handle that task, but your saliva plays an important role in keeping your mouth clean throughout the day. When it’s not available, oral bacteria will build up with the potential for causing decay or gum disease.

The dryness itself may not be the only symptom of xerostomia, either. Persistent hoarseness, sores in the mouth or bad breath may also indicate that you have a problem.