Why are the dangers of having dry mouth?
Persistent dry mouth, known as Xerostomia, can adversely affect your oral health in many different ways. Of course suffering from an occasional dry mouth is not uncommon and maybe due to normal fluctuations in hormone levels or caused by your nervous system. On the other hand, persistent dry mouth is a problem and thus cause for concern. Here is why:
- Having dry mouth can make you feel like there is a burning sensation in your mouth or throat
- You may develop sore lesions in your mouth or oral region as a result of dry mouth
- Dry mouth can lead to bad breath
- It can also affect the health of your teeth as well as your gums leading up to cavities and gum disease
Why is saliva so important?
Saliva washes off food particles and neutralizes acids in your mouth. Without sufficient saliva flow, your teeth are at a much higher risk of developing cavities. Similarly, you are much more likely to develop gum problems and loose teeth in the absence of sufficient saliva flow. So what should you do then if you’re suffering from persistent dry mouth? Should you see your dentist or physician to address the problem? Or is it best to resort to some type of home remedy first prior to seeking professional help?
Pros of Dry Mouth Treatment by your Dentist or Physician
Your dentist or doctor can help you diagnose the cause of your dry mouth as well as offer you treatment options for it. Here are some common treatments which you may receive from your dentist and/or physician:
Your dentist or doctor can identify the source of your dry mouth
Most dry mouth cases are caused as a side-effect of your medications or from an underlying medical problem. There are hundreds of medications that have dry mouth listed as one of their side-effects. If your dry mouth case is severe, you might want to consider switching to a different medication. Your physician can determine if this is a viable option or not. In addition to medications, several medial conditions can also cause dry mouth, including diabetes, nerve damage, Sjögren’s syndrome, chemotherapy and radiation cancer therapy. In fact, medical issues that cause damage to your salivary glands can cause you to suffer from a permanent dry mouth condition. You should consult with your dentist or physician to see what solutions they can offer you to best remedy or manage your dry mouth condition.
Your dentist can offer you preventive treatments to help protect your teeth and gums in the absence of sufficient salivary flow
You may be suffering from persistent dry mouth as a result of side-effects of medications you’re taking, radiation from a previous cancer therapy or other probable causes. If your dentist feels that your saliva flow is below a satisfactory level, he or she will then resort to preventive measures to help better protect your teeth and gums against the increased risk of developing cavities or gum disease. Here are a few methods used to fight off cavities for those who suffer from a low salivary flow:
- You will most likely be advised to increase the frequency of your annual dental cleanings. At the end of the day, receiving three or four dental cleanings a year is a much more desirable alternative than having to place root canals and crowns on most of your remaining teeth! Patients with severe dry mouth are typically placed on a 3 to 4 month cleaning regimen to help protect their teeth and gums.
- Most dentist would recommend a fluoride toothpaste to better assist your teeth in fighting off cavities. Some dentists even offer prescription strength fluoride treatments for severe dry mouth cases. Fluoride may be supplied in the form of a prescription strength fluoride gel, mouthwash or toothpaste, such as Colgate Prevident 5000, to better help protect your vulnerable teeth during prolonged periods of dry mouth.
- For the most serious cases, your dentist may have to fabricate a custom fluoride tray. The tray directly provides high concentrations of Fluoride to your teeth over extended periods of time. It must be worn overnight, or for several hours a day, to directly supply prescription strength fluoride to your teeth and protect them against cavities and gum disease.
They can prescribe you medications to increase your saliva flow
Only a small percentage of dry mouth cases are treated with medications. The use of medications is usually reserved for treating the most severe cases of dry mouth, typically those associated with an underlying medical condition. Medications such as Salagen (pilocarpine) or Evoxac (cevimeline) can be prescribed to help stimulate salivary glands and increase your saliva flow. Your dentist or physician is best suited to determine if it is appropriate to resort to such mediations or not.