It is likely that you have experienced dry mouth at least once and probably multiple times in your life. Sometimes environmental factors lead to the mouth becoming dried out, while on other occasions you might just forget to drink enough during a day. In these cases, the condition is annoying but temporary.
At our acclaimed restorative dentistry practice, Van Zyl Center for Advanced Dentistry, we encounter patients whose problems with dry mouth are a little more severe, however. If left untreated, chronic dry mouth can threaten a person’s oral health, leading to such complications as gum disease. Fortunately for patients of our practice in Memphis, dry mouth treatment is available. Patients can restore freshness to and relieve discomfort in their mouths while helping to preserve their oral health.
How Can Dry Mouth Be Harmful to Oral Health?
Although many people take it for granted, saliva is actually one of the most important fluids produced by the human body. Without it, you could not chew, swallow, or speak. However, it is also important for its cleansing properties. It assists in the removal of acids, bacteria, and particles of food from the teeth and gums. When saliva levels are low, these harmful substances have greater opportunity to damage your teeth and other oral tissues.
Causes and Symptoms
Some of the causes of dry mouth you can address simply by changing your lifestyle. Others require professional treatment. The most common causes include:
- Consumption of caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, and some sodas
- Alcohol consumption
- Dehydration due to lack of water intake
- Breathing through the mouth
- Certain illnesses
- Many medications, including those intended to treat asthma and allergic symptoms
If your dry mouth occurs infrequently and tends to subside after a couple of days, chances are that you do not suffer from chronic dry mouth. Likewise, if your condition improves with healthier habits, then professional treatment may not be necessary. However, if you experience any of the following symptoms along with dry mouth that lasts for more than a couple of days at a time, you should schedule an appointment at Van Zyl Center for Advanced Dentistry immediately:
- Frequent, unquenchable thirst
- Sore, scratchy throat
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Dry, swollen, red tongue
- Problems swallowing
Sometimes dry mouth is a condition unto itself - that is, it is not a symptom of a more serious underlying condition. In such cases, it can usually be treated effectively through lifestyle changes, prescription-strength mouth rinses, topical fluoride applications, Salagen® tablets, Xylitol gum, or some combination thereof.
However, one of the most important reasons to seek professional help if you have chronic dry mouth is that it may be indicative of an underlying disease or disorder, including oral cancer. In such cases, a thorough dental exam could end up leading to life-saving treatment.
Learn More about the Dangers of Dry Mouth
To learn more about the dangers of dry mouth and how the condition can be treated, please contact Van Zyl Center for Advanced Dentistry today. We would be pleased to answer any questions you have and assist you in scheduling a consultation.