A decrease in saliva can sometimes be a normal thing and often it’s just annoying to deal with. But it can also have a major impact on your general health and the health of your teeth and gums as well as your appetite and enjoyment of food.
Dry mouth happens when the salivary gland in your mouth doesn’t make enough saliva to keep your mouth wet. Saliva helps prevent tooth decay by neutralizing acids produced by the bacteria, which limits bacterial growth and washes away food particles. Saliva also increases the ability to taste and makes it easier to chew and swallow. In addition, enzymes in saliva aid in the digestion of food. Suffice it to say saliva plays an important role in the health of your mouth and teeth.
Causes of Dry Mouth
Treatments of dry mouth depend on what causes it:
- Sickness – When we are ill, our bodies respond in a variety of ways. Depending on the illness, the symptoms can range from being mildly unpleasant to dangerous. One side effect illness can cause is dry mouth.
- Medications – Many different medications can cause dry mouth. This can include different types of drugs in the following categories: blood pressure medication, antidepressants, antihistamines, sedatives and others.
- Radiation therapy – If you have been exposed to radiation there is a good chance your mouth may feel unusually dry. It may also be a side effect of anti-nausea medicine to help with the effects of radiation.
- Diabetes – If you have diabetes leads to high blood sugar levels including in one’s saliva which can lead to dry mouth.
Symptoms of Dry Mouth
If you’re not producing enough saliva, you may notice these signs and symptoms some or all of the time:
- Saliva that seems thick and stringy
- Dryness or a feeling of stickiness in your mouth
- Difficulty chewing, speaking, and swallowing
- Bad breath
- Dry or sore throat and hoarseness
- Dry or grooved tongue
- A changed sense of taste
- Problems wearing dentures
What to Do About Dry Mouth
Having a dry mouth can be very uncomfortable. But even more than that dry mouth can increase your risk of tooth decay and gum disease. A periodontist, like Dr. Guzman, specializes in the treatment of gum disease and, depending on the cause, can help determine what kind of treatment you will need. Do not let your dry mouth go undiagnosed. Every day it will get worse and every day there will be less and less saliva to fight away the bacteria in your mouth. Schedule an appointment with our periodontist in Boston today to have your dry mouth assessed and get the treatment that is right for you.