Almost everyone’s mouth may feel slightly dry sometimes, but if it feels as though your mouth is stuffed with cotton throughout the day, then you may be experiencing a condition called dry mouth. You may be more familiar with the term “cottonmouth” which is sometimes used conversationally to refer to the same condition. Experiencing dry mouth can be quite uncomfortable and can lead to even bigger problems down the road if left untreated.
What Is Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, refers to a condition in which there is a significant lack of saliva. As saliva is required to maintain the mouth’s moisture, the mouth becomes uncomfortably dry during this condition. Symptoms associated with dry mouth include:
- Dry or sticky oral cavity
- Thick or stringy saliva
- Bad breath
- Sore throat
- Burning sensation within the oral cavity
- Dry nasal passages
- Rough or grooved tongue
- Altered sense of taste
Dry mouth may come about for many different reasons including stress, certain medications, radiation therapy treatments, autoimmune disorders, and smoking. While you should never adjust your medication without advice from your doctor, it’s important to understand that many medications include dry mouth as a possible side effect. This includes medications such as:
- Pain killers
- High blood pressure medication
- And several others!
Why Is Saliva Important?
Saliva is a water-based fluid holding essential compounds and enzymes and is incredibly important for oral health. As saliva plays crucial roles in many of the body’s basic functions, it’s important to correct dry mouth as soon as possible. Saliva serves as one of the body’s initial defense mechanisms for fighting against potentially pathogenic particles and microorganisms. This fluid also effectively protects against tooth decay, maintains the integrity of the mouth’s tissues, and protects tooth enamel with a calcium coating.
Fun Fact: Acid is a natural by-product of metabolizing the sugar in our diets. Saliva can subsequently neutralize this acid to protect against cavities and enamel loss.
Additionally, within the digestive system, saliva begins the process of breaking down your food and provides many crucial chemicals used throughout digestion.
Tips For Relieving Dry Mouth
While prolonged or frequently occurring dry mouth should be addressed by a dentist, this condition may often be temporary and relieved by proper oral care. Here are some at-home steps you can take to reduce any discomfort and symptoms you’re experiencing:
- Sip water consistently throughout the day
- Avoid any alcohol or caffeine consumption
- Minimize the salt and sugar content of your diet
- Chew sugar-free gum or candy to stimulate saliva production
- Use an artificial saliva product, oral rinse, or targeted toothpaste
- Eliminate any tobacco intake
- Speak to a doctor or pharmacist about prescription side-effects
Experiencing dry mouth can be extremely uncomfortable, so consistent hydration and adequate oral hygiene are important to regularly maintain during your daily routine.
Don’t Delay Seeking Treatment
Dry mouth can be an underlying symptom of many illnesses or pharmaceutical issues, so seek treatment right away if the condition persists or occurs frequently. If left untreated, the condition may even lead to difficulty speaking and trouble swallowing. As these are serious medical issues, it is important to speak with your dentist early to take preventative action against dry mouth.
Treating Dry Mouth At Tower Dental Associates
At Tower Dental Associates, your oral health and wellbeing are our top priorities. Contact us if you’re suffering from prolonged dry mouth symptoms!