We’ve all experienced the sensation of dry mouth. On a hot day, when you haven’t consumed enough
liquids, normal thirst sets in. However, sometimes it is a constant or recurring problem, unrelated to
dehydration. Chronic dry mouth, known as xerostomia may seem like no more than a discomfort and
irritation, but it can have serious effects on your oral health if not treated.
Why saliva is important
You probably don’t give much thought to saliva, but it plays a vital role in your oral and overall health.
- The most obvious function is keeping the soft tissues in your mouth hydrated, which is more than a matter of comfort. Dehydrated tissue may split, crack, become inflamed, and be susceptible to infection, such as thrush.
- It also keeps your teeth hydrated, as well as rinsing food particles and bacteria away from them.
- Minerals and proteins help fortify tooth enamel, preventing decay.
- Moisture is necessary for effective chewing, and enjoying the full flavor of your food.
- Components in saliva begin the chemical breakdown of food as you chew, which is necessary for proper digestion.
Dry mouth increases your risk of developing cavities, gum disease, mouth sores, and even bad breath. It can be caused by a number of things. The best solution depends on the cause, and your overall health. Your doctor may prescribe medications to increase the flow of saliva, recommend fluoride treatments, suggest changes in habits, or some combination of techniques. For mild cases of dry mouth, eating sugar-free hard candy or chewing sugar-free gum may be sufficient, as either of these will stimulate saliva production.
In some cases, the root cause can be corrected, eliminating the problem. One of the most common is prescription medications, in which case your primary care physician may be able to recommend an alternative. Many diseases, such as diabetes, can also cause this problem, and controlling the underlying condition may help.
If you suffer from frequent or constant dry mouth, call Vanguard Dental at (413) 543-2555 and schedule an appointment to learn more about your treatment options. Vanguard Dental also serves families in Wilbraham, Hampden, Ludlow, East Longmeadow, Chicopee, Sixteen Acres and Indian Orchard.
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