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Dry Mouth: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

February 27th, 2024

Having a dry mouth is something that many of us experience from time to time. Yet did you know that a persistent dry mouth can create problems with your oral health?

Normal saliva production works to protect teeth and gums from germs, as well as helping to prevent plaque from building up on teeth. When saliva is lower than usual, it can leave your mouth vulnerable to tooth decay.

Let’s take a closer look at what causes a dry mouth, the symptoms it presents and how you can treat it.

What is a Dry Mouth?

The symptoms of a dry mouth may vary from person to person, but can include:

• A dry sensation over the tongue and gums
• Difficulties with chewing and swallowing food
• Changes to your sense of taste
• Bad breath
• Tooth decay
• Mouth infections, including oral thrush.

What Causes a Dry Mouth?

A dry mouth can be caused by many reasons, and the severity will vary from person to person. Some of the most common causes of a dry mouth include:

Medications – Taking medication often comes with side effects, and a common side effect is a dry mouth. Medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medicines and antidepressants are all known to create problems such as a dry mouth.

Anxiety – Having anxiety, or anxiety disorders, has a range of physical effects on the body because it triggers a stress response. This includes a dry mouth, which may persist until the stress response is lowered.

Dehydration – When we do not drink enough fluid, we can quickly become dehydrated. One of the first signs of this is a dry mouth. Dehydration causes saliva to become thicker, so it does not lubricate the mouth in the normal way.

Mouth Breathing – If you have a blocked nose or breathe through your mouth during the night, you may notice that your mouth becomes dry. This is due to air being breathed in that circulates over the tongue, soft palate, and around the gums, causing a drying effect.

How to Treat Dry Mouth

While having a dry mouth can be uncomfortable, there are some remedies to help.

• Using ice can help keep your mouth moist. Use chipped ice and hold it in your mouth to alleviate the discomfort of a dry mouth.
• Stay well hydrated
• Avoid foods that dry the mouth, such as salty or spicy flavours
• If you breathe through your mouth during the night, using a humidifier in your room may help reduce symptoms.
• If medications are the cause of your dry mouth, speak to your dentist for advice.
• Use sugar-free gum to encourage saliva production.

Taking Care of your Dental Hygiene

A good dental routine can help keep your mouth healthy and reduce the likelihood of tooth decay due to dry mouth. Keep up with regular brushing and flossing, and use an alcohol-free mouthwash to avoid drying out your mouth.

Make sure you attend your regular dental appointments and discuss any concerns with your dentist in North York. They will be able to offer advice and recommend fluoride toothpaste that can help your symptoms.

If you are looking for more advice on oral health, feel free to contact our expert team today.

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