Your mouth is constantly sticky, pasty, or bone dry and you try to address the problem by increasing the amount of water you drink. Unfortunately, water only provides temporary relief since the problem likely stems from underactive salivary glands.
Called dry mouth, Dr. AnnMarie Olson and our team have considerable experience helping patients overcome the discomfort of dry mouth. While this discomfort can be significant, the complications that stem from dry mouth can make your life even more miserable, which is why treatment is important.
Here’s a look at dry mouth and, more importantly, what we can do to resolve the issue.
Why is my mouth so dry?
You may experience a dryer-than-normal mouth from time to time, which can have everything to do with lack of hydration. Ongoing issues with a mouth that feels pasty, sticky, or dry, however, are likely due to xerostomia, which is the medical term for dry mouth.
As we mentioned earlier, dry mouth is caused by underproduction of saliva in your salivary glands and there are several reasons why this can occur, including:
- Certain medications
- Chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments
Interestingly, dry mouth isn’t necessarily considered a natural part of aging, but, as we age, we’re more likely to take medications that can lead to dry mouth.
The role of saliva
Before we get into the complications that can develop because of dry mouth, it’s important to first understand the role that saliva plays in your mouth, and there are several.
First and foremost, your saliva neutralizes acids produced by bacteria and keeps bacteria growth in check.
Saliva also ensures that the soft tissues in your mouth, including your lips, remain well hydrated and nourished.
Saliva plays a key role in digestion, as well, as the fluid contains enzymes that help with digestion and the liquid also makes chewing and swallowing easier.
Now that we better understand the benefits of having saliva, let’s take a look at what can potentially happen absent this fluid.
Complications of dry mouth
When you have dry mouth, you’re at risk for several oral issues, including:
- Dry, chapped, and cracked lips
- Bad breath
- Tooth decay
- Gum disease
- Mouth sores
- Yeast infections in your mouth
Without the protective actions of your saliva, your mouth can suffer in many ways, which is why seeking treatment is a good idea.
Treating dry mouth
If we diagnose you with dry mouth, there are several things we can do on our end to safeguard your oral health, including prescribing medications that encourage salivation.
We can also outfit you with overnight trays that deliver fluoride to your teeth to help protect them or we can administer fluoride treatments here in our office.
There are also several steps you can take to remedy your dry mouth on your own. If you’re taking medications that lead to dry mouth, for example, talk to your doctor about alternatives.
You can also purchase over-the-counter mouth rinses, sprays, and gels that contain xylitol, which can help relieve dry mouth.
You should protect your lips with high-quality lip balm and rinse your mouth frequently with water to keep the tissues inside well hydrated. In addition to rinsing, we urge you to keep water handy at all times and sip frequently throughout the day.
There are some products you’d do well to avoid, including caffeine, cigarettes, decongestants, and antihistamines.
To prevent dry mouth from wreaking havoc on your oral health, please contact our office in Austin, Texas, so that we can tailor a treatment plan to your unique needs.