Constant dry mouth is a fairly common occurrence experienced by 20% of Americans that presents when the salivary glands do not produce sufficient saliva. Aside from the discomfort, the lack of production of saliva can put you at risk for dental problems such as tooth decay and gum disease.
What Does Saliva Do, Exactly?
Composed mostly of water, saliva plays an important role in our dental and digestive health. If you’ve never considered why we have saliva, it’s quite fascinating, actually. Our oral health depends on it!
The enzymes found in our saliva aid in the digestive process by breaking down food while it is still in our mouth. When we swallow, the saliva provides lubrication that helps send food down the throat. From there, the enzymes break the food down further to allow passage through the small intestine.
Good salivary flow keeps our mouth moist and lubricates areas to protect them when we eat, chew, and swallow. A dry tongue cannot detect taste, so saliva adds moisture to enable us to taste our food.
The proteins and minerals in our saliva help protect tooth enamel and reduce the risk of diseases like tooth decay and periodontitis (gum disease). It also helps clean some of the leftover food stuck in our teeth by washing food particles away.
What Causes Persistent Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth symptoms are caused by a number of factors including:
- Smoking or tobacco use
- Certain diseases like HIV/AIDS, Sjögren syndrome, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease
- Chemotherapy and radiation treatment for cancer
- Medication conditions like colds or sinus infections (as a result of breathing through your mouth)
A large number of commonly-used medications for Alzheimer disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes also site dry mouth as a side effect, others include:
- Anxiety medications
- Blood thinners
- Some pain medications
How Can I Treat Dry Mouth?
In many cases, most individuals can relieve dry mouth by making changes at home. However, it is still advised that you talk to Dr. Marra at Huntersville Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, about what could be going on to rule out any serious problems.
A few home remedies that can help stimulate saliva production include:
- Drinking water. For many, dehydration is the simple reason for dry mouth, and most of the population does not drink the daily recommended amount (3 liters for men and 2 for women according to the Mayo Clinic). Carry a water bottle with you and sip water throughout the day to get your fill.
- Chewing sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free candies help stimulate saliva flow
- Breathing through your nose. If you’re sick then sometimes this is inevitable, however, if you tend to breathe through your mouth naturally, try to train yourself to breathe through your nose.
- Cutting out smoking and drinking alcohol.
- Practicing good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing daily.
- Getting a humidifier can reduce environmental causes from dust in your bedroom.
- Eating spicy foods. Hot foods like cayenne pepper and chili cause the mouth to salivate in order to soothe the burning sensation.
- Drinking acidic fruit juices has a similar effect as eating spicy foods.
The Best Dentist In Huntersville – Get Treatment For Dry Mouth
If you are experiencing dry mouth, we invite you to give us a call so we can discuss what may be causing the problem. Give our friendly team at Huntersville Family & Cosmetic Dentistry a call today at 704.892.7866 to schedule a visit with Dr. Marra.