Dry Mouth Treatment

Dry mouth, or xerostomia, can greatly affect day-to-day life. If you have ever experienced xerostomia you don’t need us to tell you that the food that you eat, the way you speak, and many other daily activities we take for granted are greatly disturbed by dry mouth. At Spokane Dental, we can recognize the early symptoms of dry mouth and assist the patient in alleviating the side effects and improving daily life.

Causes of Dry Mouth

Xerostomia, or dry mouth, can be caused by many factors. Commonly we see dry mouth as a side effect of medications, and according to a report by The Surgeon General there are over 400 medications on the market that can cause or contribute to dry mouth. The most common culprits are allergy medication, antidepressants, high blood pressure medication, and anti-seizure medication. The more medications a patient is taking, the possible higher risk for dry mouth.

Sjögren disease is known to cause dry mouth, and uncontrolled diabetes, hormonal changes, and radiation to the head and neck can contribute to xerostomia as well. Aging also sees an increase in instances of dry mouth, although it is often caused by prescription medications.

Symptoms of Dry Mouth

It may seem obvious that dry mouth would simply be characterized by a dry feeling in the mouth, but lack of salivary flow can affect so much of daily normal activity. This dry feeling can also seem sticky to patients, or some may even notice a burning sensation. A sore, dry-feeling throat can also be a sign of xerostomia. Bad breath can be a sign of dry mouth, as saliva is unable to cleanse the mouth throughout the day. Chewing, swallowing, and tasting food is also more difficult with dry mouth.

Oral Effects of Dry Mouth

From a dental perspective, we can see just how much our patients with dry mouth suffer through every day tasks such as eating or even speaking. We also see first hand how xerostomia endangers the health of a patient’s oral tissue as well. Dry mouth automatically puts the patient at a high risk for dental cavities. Saliva cleanses the teeth and has protective factors that keep teeth healthy and help prevent cavities. Without this constant protective factor, teeth cannot fend off the cavity causing bacteria as well.

The soft oral tissue in the mouth is also at a higher risk of gum and periodontal disease. Your Spokane Dental team not only wants to help you protect your mouth from oral disease, but we also know that a healthy mouth greatly increases quality of life.

How We Can Help

The biggest ways we can help our patients in the fight against dry mouth is through lifestyle changes. After we identify the cause of dry mouth, we can help the patient form a plan to help treat their symptoms as well as protect their mouth from oral disease. These are our top tips for simple ways to help dry mouth at home:

  • Sip water constantly: Water can ease the painful and uncomfortable symptoms of dry mouth as well as rinse and protect the teeth. Sipping water constantly throughout the day can be an enormous help in the battle against dry mouth. While eating, having water near by and taking small sips can also help with chewing and swallowing. Some people also find that sucking on ice chips throughout the day is helpful.
  • Avoid sugary or acidic drinks: These types of drinks (think soda, energy drinks, juice) can not only be uncomfortable in the long run with dry mouth, but also can be especially harmful to teeth in a high risk environment.
  • Use lozenges or sugar free gum or candy: Sucking on lozenges made for dry mouth or using sugar free candy or gum can help a dry mouth and stimulate salivary glands to produce saliva. Bonus points for gum with xylitol, which helps protect teeth!
  • Avoid mouth rinse with alcohol.
  • Use chap stick often.
  • Invest in a humidifier for your bedroom.

Depending on the severity of dry mouth that the patient is experiencing, we can also make a plan with the patient for prescription help such as artificial saliva products or prescription toothpaste that has a high dose of fluoride to protect the patient’s teeth. If you are experiencing dry mouth or any other dental issues, help is just a phone call away. Reach us at (509)822-5614.