Xerostomia: What Does that Mean Anyways?

Does your mouth frequently feel dry? If it does, you may be suffering from a condition called xerostomia. Xerostomia is defined as dry mouth that is a result from decreased or absent salivary flow. There are various medical conditions that may cause xerostomia to occur, which you can ask us any questions at your next visit at Piney Creek Family Dentistry.

Xerostomia can affect the ability to eat and enjoy food, and it can jeopardize ones dental health. Some of the more common symptoms are difficulty swallowing, sore throat, burning sensation in the oral cavity and tongue.

One of the more serious dental problems associated with dry mouth is increased risk of tooth decay. The decrease in saliva causes an increase in plaque formation on the teeth. With less saliva to buffer things we eat and drink this causes a more acidic environment and breakdown of the enamel occurs. Food debris remains in the mouth for longer periods of time without being washed away with saliva and leads to tooth decay. 

What Causes Xerostomia?

There are several things that may cause xerostomia. The biggest culprit to dry mouth are prescription medications. Some examples of types of medications include: antihistamines, antidepressants, anti anxiety, bronchodilators, and muscle relaxants.

Certain diseases can also cause dry mouth. Common diseases are rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, lupus, and thyroid disease. Patients being treated for cancer are at risk for xerostomia as well. Head and neck radiation and use of chemotherapeutic drugs cause severe dry mouth.

If you are experiencing dry mouth symptoms you should first make sure you are constantly hydrated. If taking medications that also increase the feeling of dry mouth, you should drink water before taking medication as well as a full glass of water with pills. Be diligent with brushing and flossing, and discuss your condition with Dr Fritz at your next dental check up appointment. We can recommend products to moisten the oral cavity such as specific saliva substitutes, xylitol products, and prescription toothpastes that can help reduce the risk of tooth decay. You may want to try gum or lozenges that help with stimulating salivary flow but make sure they are sugar free or contain xylitol! Avoiding beverages that cause dehydration like alcohol and caffeine will also be of benefit.

Xerostomia is a common problem and our team can help with reducing the symptoms and create comfort while living with a dry mouth! Contact Piney Creek Family Dentistry today!