Do you find talking and eating difficult because your mouth is very dry?
Do you need to drink water to eat dry foods?
Does the amount of saliva in your mouth feel thick and stringy and not sufficient most of the time?
Do you need to chew gum or suck on lollies to create saliva during the day?
These symptoms highlight a health problem which needs attention. The symptoms of dry mouth can be occasional and in response to various lifestyle practices. Being nervous causes your mouth to dry as the fight or flight involuntary response in your body begins to take effect. Drinking too much alcohol leads to dehydration and dry mouth. Some medications or illicit drugs can cause a dry mouth. Dehydration from excessive sweating after a physical workout.
If a dry mouth affects your daily life without obvious external factors causing this you must see your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
Effects of dry mouth.
Difficulty chewing food and speaking.
Sore throat making your voice hoarse.
Change in taste of foods.
Ulcers developing under dentures making wearing dentures uncomfortable and painful.
Saliva in the mouth is very important. It acts to protect our mouth from infection and facilitates healing. Daily functioning without saliva is difficult. Some of the key roles saliva plays in the mouth include:
Prevents tooth loss by managing mineral loss from the tooth during acid challenges at the tooth surface preventing tooth decay.
Facilitates chewing, speaking, swallowing, initiates digestive process of foods.
Keeps bacteria volumes low and acts as a medium for the immune system to access the oral cavity to fight dangerous organisms.
Lubricates the soft tissues in the mouth and prevents ulceration of the tissues.
What should you do if you suspect you suffer from dry mouth?
Consult your medical GP and see your dentist. The cause for dry mouth must be determined to avoid irreparable damage. Dry mouth, in most cases, may be due to medication and lifestyle choices, these are situations which can be managed and changed.
In conjunction with your daily toothpaste there are other products which can be used to control the bacterial load in the mouth. Reducing acid attack on teeth involves strict dietary practices. Frequent visits to the dentist is essential to reduce the damage on teeth.
Simple measures that can be taken to minimise deleterious impact of dry mouth.
Brush your teeth with a soft bristle brush twice a day using fluoridated adult toothpaste.
Minimise the frequency of sugar intake like lollies, cakes, biscuits, soft drink, fruit juice,energy drinks, sports drinks.
Sip regularly on fluoridated tap water to maintain hydration levels and keep the mouth lubricated.
Use water based lip moisturiser for dry lips.
Stop all forms of smoking.
Chewing sugar free chewing gum to stimulate saliva.
Drink a big glass of warm water first thing in the morning for stimulating saliva production.
Use antibacterial mouthrinses occasionally-speak to your dentist about this.
Use medicated tooth paste like tooth mousse plus-speak to your dentist.
Rinse your mouth after using asthma inhalers properly.
Dry mouth is manageable and the ill effects of this condition can be minimised. Early detection is crucial to reduce the impact on teeth.
Roland has over 20 years experience as a general dentist. Roland does all aspects of general dentistry with a special interest in prosthodontics (crown and bridge work) and cosmetic dentistry. A member of the International Team of Implantology, Roland is constantly developing his skills by collaborating with international experts.