Chronic dry mouth –medically known as xerostomia – is often overlooked as a health condition, yet it causes so much discomfort for patients.
At first, dry mouth may seem like a small problem that may just be a symptom of a hot day or acute dehydration, but what many patients here in Kelowna may not know is that excessive dry mouth can have major dental health consequences if not addressed.
Sufferers find it difficult to talk, sing, and swallow their food. It can feel like you have an unquenchable thirst, like your mouth is a dry desert.
This dryness can lead to…
- Dental caries and increased risk of plaque
- Oral candidiasis (yeast infection)
- Inflammation of the gums and mucosa
- Difficulty speaking, eating, and swallowing
- Painful tongue and taste disorders
- Burning and stinging sensations in the mouth
- Difficulty wearing dentures due to lack of lubrication from saliva
Is there anything that can provide relief?
Fortunately, we now have some dry mouth solutions that actually work.
Which option is best for you?
To answer that, we need to first find out what’s causing your symptoms.
Why More People Seem to Struggle with Dry Mouth These Days
It seems like more people than ever struggle with dry mouth symptoms. And it affects people of all ages, too.
One of the main causes of xerostomia is the consumption of medications.
The number one side effect of many over-the-counter and prescription medications is dry mouth.
Recent studies have shown that more people are, in fact, receiving prescriptions from their physicians. Not only that – each person is actually taking more medications than ever.
Some reports show that:
- The rate of prescription drug use is increasing in children aged six to 14 by 12%
- The rate of prescription drug use is increasing in adults aged 65 to 79 by 83%
- Around 41% of Canadians are taking prescription drugs regularly.
Drugs that can cause xerostomia include, but not limited to:
- ADHD medications
- Pain medications
Each drug has its own set of side-effects. Those symptoms are compounded when taking multiple medications. Instead of experiencing occasional dry mouth from one medication, you experience severe dry mouth because every medicine you take causes it.
It can be a really discouraging scenario.
Thankfully, we have dry mouth
solutions that can help.
Some Common – Yet Unexpected Causes – of Irritating Dry Mouth
Unfortunately, medications aren’t the only causes of xerostomia.
People experience dry mouth for a variety of reasons.
Understanding what causes dry mouth can help us find the best dry mouth solutions for you. Here are some common, yet often unexpected causes, of xerostomia.
- Recreational drugs
- Drinking and smoking
- Snoring and sleep apnea
- Vitamin deficiencies, particularly Vitamin A and the B Vitamins
- Health conditions, like diabetes, leukemia, autoimmune diseases, and HIV/AIDS
- Mouth breathing due to nasal congestion or problems with nasal patency
Finally Get Some Relief: Dry Mouth Solutions That Actually Work
Once we know what’s causing your dry mouth, then we can determine which of the top dry mouth solutions are best for your needs.
These are some of the best solutions that we have at our disposal right now.
- Chewing sugar-free gum instead: Make sure it’s sugar-free to avoid decay. This is not the best option for people with TMJ disorder as it can exacerbate their symptoms, including migraines.
- Sucking on sugar-free hard candies: Again, make sure they’re sugar-free. Try mints/lozenges formulated to treat dry mouth, like xylimelts.
- Using the Right Type of Mouth Rinse: Avoid mouth rinses with alcohol. Try a product made specifically for dry mouth, like Biotene.
- Drinking Plenty of Water: It’s recommended that we all drink at least eight glasses of water each day. If you have dry mouth, you’ll definitely want to drink at least that amount, if not more.
- Stop Smoking: Studies show that the more you smoke the more at risk you are of developing xerostomia.
- Limiting Caffeine Intake: Caffeine is a diuretic and excessive amounts can contribute to dry mouth.
- Buy a Humidifier: Sleeping in a dry room – especially if you’re a mouth breather – can lead to dry mouth symptoms. Placing a humidifier in your room can definitely help.
- See an Allergist, or Ear, Nose, & Throat Specialist, or Naturopathic Doctor: if you are unable to breathe through your nose properly. They can assess the cause and try to eliminate or reduce allergies or sensitivities. Surgery may also be an indication for inflamed nasal tissues, tonsils or adenoids or if turbinates need reduction or if you have a deviated septum.
- Get a Sleep Apnea/Anti-Snoring Device: People who snore or who have sleep apnea often complain of dry mouth. I offer an oral appliance that can reduce snoring and help with sleep apnea.
Dry Mouth Sufferers Need to See Their West Kelowna Dentist Often
As I mentioned, one of the side effects of excessive dry mouth is decay.
I want to do all I can to help you prevent decay. When you schedule regular dental examinations, we can work together to take preventative measures. These can include fluoride treatments, dry mouth solutions, and getting dental cleanings more often.
And if at one of your examinations I do find decay, it’s likely that the cavity will still be shallow and easily fixed.
Another advantage of seeing a dentist – especially a dentist that offer sleep apnea treatments such as myself – is that we can keep an eye out for symptoms such as dry mouth in relation to your snoring. Seeing you on a regular basis helps not only detect and excavate decay in its early stages, but address any issues that may also be affecting your overall health.
Together, we can treat your dry mouth and any underlying issues you may not be aware of.
Are you looking for dry mouth relief? If so, contact my office to schedule a dental examination. After I evaluate your overall dental health, we can discuss options to treat your dry mouth symptoms.
Dr. Shauna Palmer, B.Sc., D.D.S.
Dentist in West Kelowna