Is Dry Mouth Normal?

November 2, 2018

Dry mouth (xerostomia) might seem like an annoying thing that happens at night from time to time. But if it occurs regularly, it needs to be treated. Left untreated, it can affect a variety of things, including eating, speaking, and your general oral health. If you do suffer from dry mouth, you are certainly not alone. As many as 400 medications list xerostomia as a side effect. You can check this list, to see if your medication is one of them. Symptoms of persistent dry mouth can include:

  • thick or stringy saliva
  • bad breath
  • changes in your sense of taste
  • issues while wearing dentures
  • difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • sore throat
  • grooved tongue

Xerostomia can have unwanted consequences on our teeth. The lack of saliva disrupts the pH balance in the oral cavity, often making it more acidic. If there isn’t enough saliva, there can be an increase in plaque in the mouth as well as thrush and mouth sores. Cavity causing bacteria thrive in this environment so your risk for decay greatly increases. That is why your hygienist or dentist may recommend a prescription fluoride toothpaste or fluoride trays to strengthen your enamel. For existing patents at Laurel Dental, we do provide custom fluoride trays at no charge and will have a prescription for a fluoride treatment.  It’s important to note that fluoride will strengthen the enamel but will not ease the discomfort that dry mouth can cause.

Your hygienist may also give suggestions for different products to try that will keep the mouth more moist. Another suggestion is to make sure you’re drinking enough water each day. Below we’ve put together a list of products you can try that aim to ease the severity of dry mouth. Ask your dentist or hygienist about any of these products!

Here are some things you can do at home to help treat dry mouth that solely occurs at night:

  • Keep a glass of water next to your bed in case you wake up at night and your mouth is dry.
  • Avoid using mouthwash that contains alcohol, since this can be drying.
  • Try to consciously breathe through your nose, not your mouth.

Another ill effect of xerostomia is a lack of nutrient absorption. From the time food enters our mouth it begins breaking down due to enzymes in our saliva. If you are lacking saliva, food is not being broken down as much before entering the rest of our digestive system where nutrients are extracted and absorbed. This is something to remember as you consider your diet and the role it plays in overall health.

The Academy of General Dentistry states that 90% of xerostomia cases are caused by medications. If this is something that concerns you or affects you daily, you may want to consider a discussion with your physician about an alternate medication. As always if you have any questions, feel free to ask us at your next visit!

References:

WSDHA Dry Mouth Medication List: http://wsdha.com/clientuploads/pdfs/Public%20Info/Seniors/DryMouthMedications.pdf

RDH Magazine:

https://www.rdhmag.com/articles/print/volume-37/issue-9/contents/dry-comfort.html=

HealthLine

https://www.healthline.com

 


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