After the saliva is produced it moves through tubes called salivary ducts. You can test drive the process by yawning. Chances are you’ll end up with a small pool of saliva under your tongue because when you yawn your facial muscles push against your sublingual salivary glands, which produces a small stream of salvia.
Yawning is a quick fix for a temporary dry mouth. But if you don’t produce enough salvia on a regular basis, you have “xerostomia”– more commonly known as dry mouth.
Dry mouth is not something that you want to ignore. Salvia is the mouth’s major defense against tooth decay, and also helps to control the bacteria and other microorganisms that live in your mouth. Too little salvia can cause accelerated tooth decay, gum disease, oral sores and pain, bad breath and even interfere with your ability to taste.
Why Is My Mouth So Dry?
Dry mouth can be caused by stress, smoking, over-consumption of caffeinated drinks, or just general dehydration. It is also a side effect of diseases including HIV/AIDS, Sjogren’s syndrome, diabetes, and Parkinson’s. Dry mouth can be caused by malfunctioning salivary glands, or blocked salivary ducts.
Your dry mouth may be a side effect connected to medical procedures such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy. A dry mouth is also a very typical response to many medications, including
- Analgesics (pain medication)
- Anxiety medicines
- Appetite suppressants
- Blood pressure drugs
Symptoms of dry mouth can include always feeling thirsty, an incessant sore throat, hoarseness, a burning sensation in your mouth, difficulties in speaking and swallowing, and/or dry nasal passages. Dry mouth can also make it hard to wear dentures, as saliva acts as a sort of natural glue that helps keep dentures in place.
Managing Dry Mouth
Dry mouth can soemtimes be alleviated by simply increasing the amount of fluid you drink, chewing on sugar free gum or candies, or using a vaporizer to add moisture to the air in your home.
If the condition is caused by a medication, your doctor may be able to decrease the dose or switch you to a different drug. Your doctor or dentist may also suggest that you use an oral rinse that can help keep your mouth moist, or may prescribe a medication to increase saliva production.
Allergies, colds or other conditions that make it easier to breathe through the mouth rather than your nose can also cause dry mouth. Speak with a health care professional about your sinus problem.
If you have become a frequent user of nasal sprays, you may want to ask your doctor for help in weaning yourself off the spray. You’ll probably notice that your dry mouth gets much worse when you’re in the midst of cutting back on the spray, and then improves rapidly after the rebound congestion clears and you can breathe normally again.
People who frequently experience dry mouth may want to try limiting their intake of caffeine and stop all use of tobacco products.
Dry mouth is very commonly experienced by people who use nicotine vaporizers (aka: e-cigarettes). If you vape, stay well hydrated and pay careful attention to your dental hygiene to counteract the increased risk of tooth decay and other oral health problems.
If dry mouth is something that you’ll need to deal with for an extended period of time, due to necessary medications or recovery from medical treatment, it’s important that you take excellent care of your teeth and mouth. Along with regular visits to the dentist, you’ll may be advised to:
- Use a prescription-strength fluoride toothpaste and fluoride rinse to protect against tooth decay
- Avoid sticky, sugary foods that can stick to your teeth and foster decay, or brush ASAP after consuming them.
- Try an over-the-counter dry mouth rinse or saliva substitute product. Look for products containing xylitol, carboxymethylcellulose or hydroxyethyl cellulose.
Regular dental care can help ease the symptoms of dry mouth and ward off the problems that the condition can cause. If you’ve been putting off seeing a dentist due to cost, there is an affordable alternative to paying out of pocket and pricey insurance: a dental savings plan from :DentalPlans.
To learn more call one of our :DP AtYourService Customer Care Representatives at 1-800-238-5163.