It can be easy to take our good health for granted when we’re feeling at our best. We wake up, get ready for the day, and go about our normal lives without sparing a thought for how effortlessly our bodies seem to carry us through. However, when our body starts to behave a bit differently than we’re accustomed to, even the slightest change can throw a wrench in our abilities to enjoy life and function normally. For those who have never experienced dry mouth, the natural moisture of their mouth feels like a given. But those of us who have suffered from dry mouth know just how distracting and uncomfortable a lack of moisture in the mouth can be. If you’ve ever wondered what leads to this annoying and damaging condition and how you can best prevent it, read on to learn a bit more about this common dental ailment!
Signs and Symptoms
While it’s normal to feel a dryness in the mouth on occasion, a problem occurs when this sensation lasts and the body struggles to produce enough saliva to keep the mouth adequately wet. Some symptoms of dry mouth include feelings of stickiness or dryness in the mouth and throat, difficulty using the mouth to speak, chew, or swallow, a higher frequency of tooth decay and cavities, cracked lips, bad breath, and a burning sensation in the mouth. Additionally, patients sometimes experience irritated gums or sores in the mouth.
What’s the Cause?
There are many possible reasons a person might experience dry mouth, and they range from momentary and non-threatening to severe. The most common reasons include stress and nervousness, with dry mouth usually only lasting for the length of the stressful situation. Additionally, certain medications and cancer treatments such as chemotherapy can cause the mouth the slow down saliva production. Users of tobacco and other inhaled drugs may notice a perpetual dryness to their mouths after both single and chronic use. The most severe reasons for dry mouth include autoimmune disorders such as Sjogren’s syndrome, which causes the white blood cells of the body to attack the moisture producing glands found in the mouth, eyes, and nasal passage. Severe forms of Sjogren’s can lead to dysfunction of other organs like the liver, lungs, kidneys, and central nervous system.
How Do We Prevent It?
Fortunately, there are many ways to combat the feeling of dryness in your mouth! Small actions such as sipping water or sugarless drinks throughout the day or chewing sugar free gum can help to moisten the mouth and encourage saliva production. Avoiding tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine will all help aid your body in retaining moisture in the mouth, as well as avoiding foods that are high in salt. Finally, using a humidifier at night while sleeping can help your body retain moisture and lessen the chances of waking up with a parched, dry mouth.
If you’ve been suffering from dry mouth, your dentist can help you figure out why and how to best combat it! Give us a call at Oradent Associates in Chicago to schedule your next appointment today!