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What Is Xerostomia?

A dry mouth is one of the most common oral health problems, especially in older adults. For many people, dry mouth happens on rare occasions. Most likely due to dehydration, drinking too much beer or simply sleeping with your mouth open. Unfortunately for others, dry mouth is a chronic problem that can make everyday life more difficult. In addition to the physical side effects, it can make people less confident in social situations, to the point where eating and talking in public becomes annoying. Here are some facts about the condition and Medical Arts Dentistry’s top advice on how to deal with it.

Why Is Saliva Important?

Saliva plays a crucial role in our digestive system. Saliva helps prevent tooth decay by neutralizing acids produced by bacteria, limiting bacterial growth, and flushing away food debris. Saliva also improves your ability to taste, making chewing and swallowing easier.  A dry mouth or xerostomia is a condition in which the salivary gland in the mouth does not produce enough saliva to keep the mouth moist. A dry mouth is often caused by side effects of certain medications, age problems, or radiation treatment for cancer. When you have xerostomia, your mouth stays dry for a prolonged period of time.

Signs and Symptoms of Dry Mouth

When you are not producing enough saliva for your mouth the following can happen:

  • Dry or sticky mouth

  • Saliva that looks thick and sticky

  • Bad breath

  • Difficulty chewing, speaking, and swallowing

  • Dry or sore throat and hoarseness

  • Dry tongue

  • Taste change

  • Problems with dentures

When dry mouth becomes a prolonged dental issue, your health is jeopardized. In addition to being uncomfortable, it can affect your speech and digestion. Serious symptoms include tooth decay, dry eyes and skin, skin rash, and pain in your joints. 

General Dry Mouth Treatments

A dry mouth is treatable, but in many cases, it doesn’t go away overnight. Depending on the cause of your dry mouth, your doctor or dentist can recommend appropriate treatments. You can relieve dry mouth by:

  • Drinking water or diet drinks often, especially after meals. 

  • Avoid caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, and some sodas. Caffeine can dry out your mouth even further.

  • Chewing sugar-free gum. Some sugar-free gums and candies contain xylitol, which may help prevent tooth decay.

  • Avoiding spicy or salty foods, which can cause a sore, dry mouth.

  • Quitting smoking and drinking. They dry out your mouth. If you are a current smoker, you should consider quitting.

  • Using a humidifier at night.

Need Help Treating Dry Mouth?

Regular visits to the dentist are crucial to maintaining overall health. While dry mouth may not seem like a health problem, it can quickly become a problem if left untreated. If you need help treating dry mouth or another dental issue, Medical Arts Dentistry can help. If you need cosmetic, general, or restorative dentistry treatments, or Botox or dermal fillers, Dr. Roher is ready to give your health and appearance a boost. Call 912-355-0605 for our Savannah location and 912-921-0401 for our Georgetown location and make an appointment today.


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