Do you walk around with a bottle of water to ALWAYS wet your lips?
Do you wake up in the night feeling like your tongue is a dry lake bed?
Do you have a hard time swallowing?
Would you lose a spitting contest or never know what your ancestry heritage is because you couldn’t spit on the paper?
All of these can be signs you are not producing enough saliva, or spit. We call this condition Xerostomia, a fancy word for dry mouth. Is it a big deal? YES!
Saliva has an important role in the health of your teeth, gums, and digestion. It is a lubricant to the tissues to maintain moisture and keep things moving; it even helps you swallow. As it actively flows through the mouth, around the teeth, tongue, and cheeks it prevents bad bacteria from multiplying, as a first defense from cavities and gum disease. Saliva also contains important enzymes to help with digestion.
So why do I have dry mouth?
Many things can cause this. By far, the most common cause is side effects to certain medications for blood pressure and heart disease. Sjogren’s Syndrome is a rare autoimmune disease that can affect the salivary glands’ ability to produce saliva. Mouth breathing, which is a sign of a possible airway issue like snoring or sleep apnea can cause your mouth to dry out all night. Alcohol consumption, smoking, stress, and strenuous physical activity can also lead to dry mouth and oral changes. And, of course, those battling head and neck cancer and treatments with radiation therapy can sometimes completely stop saliva production.
What can you do if this is you?
There is hope. Although, many of the causes of dry mouth cannot be reversed, changed, or cured they can be managed. There are over-the-counter products you can try. If you need moisture try XyliMelts, a small tablet placed in the cheek that will release moisture for up to 8 hours. Biotene and Oral7 products have rinses and sprays and gels. There is no one-answer-fits-all. It takes trying each product to see what works for you. Xylitol containing products (i.e. mints, mouth rinses, and gum) are good to use because it helps neutralize the pH in the mouth, which can be very acidic when dry, inhibiting the growth of cavity producing bacteria. It can also promote salivary production. Lastly, we recommend an SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) free toothpaste.
Discuss your concerns with Vibrant Dental at your next dental checkup, and we can help guide you as you learn to manage your dry mouth. Set up your appointment at 702-454-0818 if you need one.