There are health problems that many people ignore without a second thought. From migraines to acid reflux, we all have symptoms that we classify as “normal” or passable.
One of the health problems that I see patients shrug off is excessive dry mouth, medically known as xerostomia. At first, this may seem like a small problem that may just be a symptom of a hot day or acute dehydration, but what many patients here in Des Plaines and Mount Prospect may not know is that excessive dry mouth can have major dental health consequences if not addressed.
What Causes Dry Mouth?
Before I get into what you can do to treat dry mouth, let me discuss what causes it. Dry mouth occurs when there is not enough saliva produced by the salivary glands to keep the mouth wet.
The reasons for poor salivary gland function can vary. Causes include:
- Medication: Hundreds of prescription and over-the-counter drugs can include dry mouth as a side effect. Some common medications that often cause dry mouth include antihistamin es, decongestants, medications used to treat ADHD, and pain medications. If you are experiencing chronic dry mouth, check the side effects of any medication you are taking.
- Alcohol and Tobacco Use: Drinking, smoking, and using chewing tobacco are three big causes of dry mouth.
- Cancer Therapy: Chemotherapy drugs and radiation treatment can cause major damage to salivary glands and prevent them from producing enough saliva.
- Nerve Damage: Nerve damage in the head and neck in particular can contribute to dry mouth.
- Health Conditions: This category is fairly broad, but it includes diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, autoimmune diseases, HIV or AIDS, and snoring.
- Recreational Drug Use: Marijuana, stimulants, and methamphetamine can cause xerostomia.
- Snoring: Snoring, as well as breathing with your mouth open, are also significant causes of dry mouth.
How to relieve xerostomia and why it’s important
Your mouth needs saliva; it’s important for maintaining the health of your teeth and mouth. Saliva helps prevent tooth decay because it washes away bacteria and food. It also assists in swallowing.
Chronic dry mouth is an issue that should be addressed immediately.
Xerostomia (dry mouth) can lead to significant health problems, including:
- Dental caries and increased plaque
- Oral candidiasis
- Inflammation of the gums and mucosa
- Difficulty speaking, eating, and swallowing
- Painful tongue and taste disorders
- Burning and stinging sensations in the mouth
- Difficulty wearing dentures due to lack of lubrication from saliva
Relieving the symptoms of chronic dry mouth is possible
- Chew sugar-free gum
- Suck on sugar-free hard candies
- Avoid mouthwash containing alcohol
- Drink water throughout the day
- Quit tobacco use
- Limit caffeine intake
- Get a humidifier to add water vapor to your room while you sleep
- Try to breathe through your nose
- Use clinical treatments such as Neutrasal
“What option is best for me?”
For many patients, the cause of their dry mouth is a required medication. In a situation like this, I like to suggest NeutraSal, a prescription rinse treatment that mimics saliva.
Why I recommend NeutraSal
NeutraSal is proven to relieve symptoms and supports overall dental health.
- Reduces discomfort caused by dryness in the mouth
- Lowers the mucus accumulation in the mouth
NeutraSal comes in single-use packets of powder that you mix in water to create an oral rinse. Depending on the situation of your dry mouth, I may prescribe you to rinse 2 or more times a day.
We believe… you should seek treatment for dry mouth, don’t just ignore it
Chronic Dry Mouth Workshop – Details TBD
Dry mouth is a condition that must be solved on a case-by-case basis. By being informed and knowing what treatments are available, you can make lifestyle modifications or share with us your concerns.
I plan to host a workshop dedicated to patients currently with xerostomia sometime in March. Details are still in the works for the date, time and place. If you’re interested in attending, please stay tuned on our Facebook or our Instagram for the event details.
In the meantime, I’ll be glad to discuss with you any lifestyle modifications you can do to decrease the dryness in your mouth or if NeutraSal is right for you.
Dr.Thomas Meyer, DDS, MICCMO – Dentist Mount Prospect