Look Carefully at Dry Mouth: Causes and Treatment
Dry mouth is a common condition that most people will encounter at some stage in their life. Often, it is little more than an inconvenience and rarely serious; but prolonged bouts of dry mouth can point to underlying oral problems which should be investigated by a dentist.
Dry mouth is characterized by a lack of saliva in the mouth and can be caused by several factors. Saliva is vitally important to oral health as it helps to neutralise oral bacteria, as well as aiding in the chewing and digesting of food.
Signs of dry mouth may include:
- heightened levels of tooth decay
- increase in the number of cavities
- dry or cracked corners of the mouth
- red or inflamed mouth tissue, or other oral infection
- ‘sticky’ mouth
Causes of dry mouth can include non-oral health issues, such as high blood pressure or hormonal changes; over-the-counter medications, such as painkillers; and also treatments for diseases, such as cancer; as well as the patient’s own emotional state. Simple dehydration can also make the mouth feel dryer than normal. Regular smokers and alcohol drinkers may also experience regular bouts of dry mouth.
In many cases, this condition can be easily and simply treated at home. Increasing fluid intake, or sucking on a hard candy to stimulate the creation of saliva, may be all that is required to alleviate the symptoms. However, more serious cases of dry mouth may require a dental check up by a dentist.
In order to ascertain the cause of more serious cases of dry mouth, a dentist will undertake a full review of the patient’s medical history and a thorough oral examination before recommending treatment. The dentist may prescribe a hydrating oral rinse, or a medicine that can help stimulate saliva production.
If the culprit is found to be medication – either prescription or over-the-counter – then an alternative treatment may be suggested. Smokers and alcohol drinkers should seek to curb their habit, and sweetened drinks, such as sodas, should be avoided.
Prolonged spells of dry mouth can lead to tooth decay, bad breath and other health problems if left untreated. As a result, it is important to consult a dentist to discuss the symptoms in cases where the condition shows no sign of receding after a time.
If you are experiencing symptoms associated with dry mouth, contact the office of Dr. Richard Sousa, serving Port Washington and the neighboring areas, to schedule your consultation.
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