Do you often find yourself hastily drinking water to rid yourself of the dryness in your mouth? Has chewing gum become your new addiction, as it’s the only cure for the drought that seems to have settled in your oral cavity? Saliva plays an integral role in achieving and maintaining good oral health, and if you’ve found that you’re running short of the slimy stuff, it’s time to find the root of the problem.
Dry mouth is referred to as xerostomia (zeer-o-STO-me-uh) in the medical world and can be caused by a number of factors. The best treatment depends on the underlying cause of the problem. Before panicking and running to the emergency room for immediate diagnosis, there are several steps one can take to try to improve the presence of saliva. They include, but are not limited to:
- Chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free hard candies
- Avoiding alcohol based mouthwashes
- Discontinuing the use of all tobacco products
- Limiting caffeine intake
- Consistently sipping on water
- Over-the-counter saliva substitutes
- Breathing through the nose as opposed to the mouth
- Using a room humidifier at night
Dry mouth can be very uncomfortable, causing difficulties in tasting, chewing, swallowing, and speaking. Additionally, it increases the risk of developing dental decay and other infections of the oral cavity. Many believe dry mouth to be a normal part of aging (it’s not), and therefore ignore the warning signs of a potential problem. If the above mentioned “treatments” do not provide relief, it is important to discuss the issue with your dentist, as the symptoms may be a sign of a more complicated and serious issue.
Written by Mark Paulsort
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