Do you know the importance of saliva? Its absence can be extremely uncomfortable. Saliva is necessary in digestion and cleaning the teeth. It helps us to chew and swallow. It protects our mouths from infection, sores, and bacteria!
Understanding the importance of saliva makes it all that more frustrating when a person suffers from dry mouth.
There are more than 400 medications that have the potential to cause dry mouth! Dry mouth is not only caused by medications but also is a common side effect of radiation and chemotherapy. Unfortunately, cancer patients often suffer from damage to the salivary glands from cancer treatment.
The tissues, when dry, are more susceptible to swelling and infection. Not only are the soft tissues affected, but, cavities are more prevalent in patients with dry mouth. A patient with dry mouth often complains about bleeding, altered taste, mouth sores, swollen gums, bad breath, and discolored teeth. These common side effects along with increased decay are a frustrating combination.
Saliva is mostly water. It has important substances in it such as enzymes, mucus, and electrolytes that aid in the digestion of food. There are many helpful tips for combating dry mouth.
- Sip water often
- Avoid caffeine drinks
- Chew sugarless gum
- Avoid tobacco and alcohol
- Avoid tissue irritants such as spicy and salty foods
- Sleep in a humidified area
- Dry mouth aids such as Biotene paste and rinse
Patients who have dry mouth must be extra careful with their home care. Brushing and flossing twice a day is crucial. This along with using a fluoride toothpaste and avoiding a sugary diet will help maintain a healthy mouth! And don’t forget to tell your dentist that you are suffering from dry mouth!
The prognosis and treatment of dry mouth varies. First one must determine the cause of dry mouth. If the cause is stress or dehydration induced, then a change in lifestyle should solve the issue. When disease or medication are the cause of dry mouth, often a patient will only be able to treat the symptoms of dry mouth.
If you or a loved one suffer from dry mouth contact your dental professional for advice.
Until next time,
Keep smiling, sharing, and caring.