Look carefully at dry mouth: Causes and treatments

Many people take it for granted, but saliva serves important functions in the mouth. Not only does saliva aid in chewing and digesting food, it also helps keep oral bacteria under control. Because saliva plays such a key role, dentists may look for symptoms of dry mouth during an exam. These signs may include dryness of the tongue and throat in addition to the rest of the mouth. Dentists may also ask patients if they’ve recently had excessive thirst or hoarseness, which can also indicate dry mouth.

When a patient has insufficient saliva in the mouth, it can be cause for concern. Not only is the condition uncomfortable, but it can also increase the likelihood of tooth decay, gingivitis and some oral infections. Fortunately, dentists in Denton County have ways to treat dry mouth.

When evaluating patients with complaints of dry mouth, dentists will explore a variety of factors that could contribute to the problem. A large number of medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, list dry mouth among their side effects. Certain illnesses and infections can have dry mouth on their list of symptoms, and treatments for diseases (notably, chemotherapy) can result in the condition, as well. General dehydration can also make the mouth dryer.

Fortunately, many treatments for dry mouth are relatively simple. The dentist may tell you merely to increase your water intake. Sucking on candy (sugar-free, of course!) can also boost saliva levels. A hydrating oral rinse may be prescribed, or you may need to take a medicine that stimulates saliva production. If medication is the culprit, your physician may be able to suggest an alternative that doesn’t have this side effect.

Tobacco use can also contribute to dry mouth, so if you’re trying to reverse the condition, you may need to stop smoking or using chewing tobacco to get the best results.

If you have dry mouth, you may need to be more diligent about your oral hygiene routine to prevent gum disease and tooth decay. It’s even more important for patients with dry mouth to brush twice a day and floss thoroughly to clear bacteria from the mouth.