Dry Mouth


Dry mouth (or xerostomia) can be physically painful due to the depletion of saliva in the mouth. Often, the parched sensation makes it difficult to talk and swallow food and drink.


Saliva is a mineral-rich solution that normally cleanses and protects the teeth. The lack of saliva results in increased susceptibility to plaque formation. The treatments your dentist suggests can increase moisture in your mouth to keep plaque from accumulating and causing gingivitis.


Questions your dentist may ask to determine the cause of dry mouth:

  • Do you take medications? May prescription and over-the-counter drugs commonly associated with dry mouth. They range from antihistamines to blood pressure and pain medications.

  • Do you have Sjögren's syndrome or other systemic autoimmune disorder? Dry mouth is a signature symptom of Sjögren's syndrome, a disease that attacks the saliva glands.

  • Are you in radiation therapy? Patients who undergo radiation for neck and head cancers often experience dry mouth when radiation damages the saliva glands.

  • Do you smoke? Cigarettes, pipe and cigar smokers are all susceptible dry mouth.


Solutions from your dentist for dry mouth may include:

  • Eliminate certain foods. Avoid sugar, which dries the mouth, as much as possible. Avoid coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages that contribute to oral dryness. Avoid alcohol as it has similar effects.

  • Drink through a straw. This solution applies if you have difficulties swallowing liquids.

  • Increase water consumption. Drink more water and take sips throughout the day to moisten your mouth.

  • See your doctor regarding medications. See if you can switch medications or alter dosage to alleviate the dryness. Never alter your own medications without getting the approval of your doctor first.


A visit to your dentist is an effective way to determine the cause of your dry mouth and proper treatment method. Regularly visit your dentist for checkups to give the professional time to evaluate the condition and modify dry mouth treatment as necessary.


This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.


Brian Y. Kuo DDS FAGD

(626) 800-8022

www.drkuodds.com

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