• 19 JAN 16
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    Navigating the Desert of Dry Mouth

    Navigating the Desert of Dry MouthDo you constantly feel thirsty or parched? Do you find it a task to swallow particular foods? Is your saliva dry, thick or foamy? If you relate to any of these questions, you may be suffering from a condition called Xerostomia, also known as dry mouth. 

    Dry mouth affects one in four people and is most commonly found in adults. Dr. Evanson understands the importance of diagnosing dry mouth early–it’s not a condition you want to wait to act on. Understanding the causes, symptoms and treatment options can help you navigate the desert of dry mouth and lead you back to an oasis of good health.

    Understanding Dry Mouth

    Often described as “cotton mouth,” Xerostomia is a condition caused by a decrease in saliva production. If your salivary glands stop functioning normally, your mouth is left feeling dry and uncomfortable. Although the discomfort is problematic, it isn’t your biggest challenge. Saliva is one of your body’s natural defenses against plaque because it acts to rinse your mouth of cavity-causing bacteria and other harmful materials. Saliva also provides a protective barrier and lubricant for the tongue and other tender tissues inside your mouth. Saliva also aids in digestion and helps you taste the food you eat.

    What Causes Dry Mouth?

    The Academy of General Dentistry reports that more than 90% of all dry mouth cases find their origins in your medicine cabinet. The Surgeon General’s Report on Oral Health in America states that 400 different medicines have been tied to dry mouth, including:

    • Antihistamines used to treat allergies and colds
    • Decongestants
    • Antidepressants
    • Painkillers
    • Obesity medications
    • Diuretics and antihypertensives taken to treat high blood pressure
    • Tranquilizers/sedatives
    • Acne medications
    • And more

    A variety of diseases and infections cause dry mouth as a side effect.  These include: 

    • HIV/AIDS
    • Alzheimer’s disease
    • Sjögren’s syndrome
    • Anemia
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Hypertension
    • Diabetes
    • Parkinson’s disease
    • Cystic fibrosis
    • Stroke
    • Mumps

    Other causes of dry mouth are:

    • Hormone changes, such as those that occur during pregnancy or menopause
    • Nerve damage in close proximity to the neck or head
    • Medical treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation to areas near the neck and head
    • Lifestyle choices, including smoking cigarettes and marijuana, chewing tobacco, and drinking alcohol and caffeine
    • Conditions that lead to dehydration, such as diarrhea, fever, vomiting and excessive sweating

    Signs and Symptoms of Dry Mouth

    To help you diagnose dry mouth, take a look at the most common signs and symptoms:

    • Tooth sensitivity in one or more teeth
    • Chronic thirst
    • Bad breath
    • Dryness or stickiness inside and around the mouth
    • Constant thirst or desire to wet the mouth
    • Difficulty eating, swallowing or speaking
    • Thick, foamy or stringy saliva
    • Sore throat or hoarseness
    • Dry nasal passages
    • Sensitivity, irritation and/or dryness of the tongue

    Due to the lack of saliva, dry mouth sufferers also fall victim to extensive tooth decay, tooth loss or gingivitis (gum disease). Dry mouth patients also report an altered sense of taste and difficulty wearing dentures.

    Treatment Options

    There’s no substitute for regular checkups and good oral hygiene. Speak with Dr. Evanson about treatment options for your condition. Whether your symptoms are minor or significant, dry mouth can seriously impact your quality of life. Some dry mouth remedies include the following:

    • Visit your dentist regularly.
    • Brush with mild-flavored fluoride toothpaste and floss twice a day.
    • Avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol.
    • Drink plenty of water.
    • Avoid overly salty foods.
    • Avoid citrus juices.
    • Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless candy.
    • Use over-the-counter saliva substitutes.
    • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and smoking.
    • Talk to your doctor about changing your medications.
    • Breathe through your nose instead of your mouth.
    • Wear lip balm.
    • Sleep with a humidifier.

    Consult Your Dentist Early

    Early detection of dry mouth is key. It’s critical to discuss your symptoms with Dr. Evanson as soon as possible. Diagnosing dry mouth early can save your teeth. The longer you wait, the more likely you will suffer irreversible damage, such as cavities, tooth decay and tooth loss. Call our office today at (720) 409-0008 if you are experiencing one or more symptoms of dry mouth. Our team can answer any questions you may have and help you schedule an appointment.

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