When you think about it, our mouth is a pretty remarkable piece of machinery. One of its coolest functions is its ability to produce saliva. This helps to not only break down food when we eat, but it also helps our mouth stay sufficiently lubricated, clean, and comfortable. For some, the routine production of the right amount of saliva can turn into a struggle. This condition is technically called xerostomia, but in common vernacular it’s known as dry mouth. This condition not only stuffs the mouth with a measure of discomfort, it also can make it harder for maintain a normal level of cleanliness. Fortunately, there are several things a person can do to combat this issue.
Why Does a Mouth Get Dry?
There are several physiological reasons why a mouth may become dry. These can range from relatively simple, straightforward issues like dehydration to more complex, layered roots, such as being a side effect for various medical treatments, medications, or diseases.
Certain controlled, habitual lifestyle choices can also contribute to the presence of dry mouth. For instance, smoking or chewing tobacco could have adverse effects on the amount of saliva your mouth produces, in addition to all of the other negative effects it has on your body. Having a tendency to breathe with your mouth open can also bring about the onset of dry mouth.
Symptoms of Dry Mouth
There’s not a whole lot of guesswork involved in figuring out whether or not you have dry mouth – it’s a condition that manifests itself rather prominently. Typical symptoms associated with dry mouth include:
- Dry feeling in mouth
- Sore throat
- Chapped or cracked lips
- Altered or diminished sense of taste
- Difficulty swallowing or chewing
- Difficulty speaking
- Frequent thirst
- Bad breath
Studies indicate dry mouth effects roughly 10% of the population, with a tendency to be more prominent in women than in men.
How to Treat Dry Mouth
Treating an ongoing dry mouth condition is one that requires a trip to the dentist or the physician to completely knock out. A dentist or doctor will be able to properly scrutinize the cause of the dry mouth, which will allow you to get back on the road to recovery in the correct way.
If your dry mouth is a side effect of a medication you’re taking, your doctor may adjust the dosage of the drug or may change it altogether. If it’s determined that your salivary glands simply producing a sufficient amount of saliva, you may be recommended an over-the-counter prescription medicine specifically designed to stimulate extra saliva production. In some cases, you may be prescribed artificial saliva to help keep your mouth wet.
It’s important that you seek out treatment if dry mouth is an ongoing issue. Prolonged mouth dryness can do more than just make your mouth uncomfortable. A lack of sufficient saliva could make it tougher to fend off bacteria, which could lead to infection in the mouth and gums, up to and including tooth decay.
There are a few things you can do to at least keep the scourge of dry mouth to a minimum. Some of these include common sense tactics like sipping water or chewing sugarless gum. Other ideas take a little more forethought, such as avoiding caffeinated beverages or using a humidifier at night. If you don’t have a serious dry mouth issue, this should help to keep your mouth properly lubricated.
If these tactics don’t work as well as you think they should, don’t decide that you’ll merely live with the condition. Schedule an appointment with your dentist or doctor right away. Doing so will do more than help your mouth feel better. It may save your teeth in the long run.