Approximately 25% of Americans suffer from dry mouth, known as xerostomia, a condition in which there is decreased saliva flow in the mouth. Considered mostly an annoyance by most people, dry mouth has very significant impacts on human health ad should be taken very seriously. Saliva aids in digestion by aiding in swallowing, breaking down foods and helping with taste perception. Salivary proteins also help to neutralize the harmful effects of oral bacteria, therefore protecting you from tooth decay and gum disease.
When there is inadequate salivary production, multiple problems can arise. They include:
1. Increased decay and gum disease risk
2. Difficulty eating and swallowing
3. Altered taste perception
4. Increased risk for mouth sores
5. Increased risk for yeast infections
The most common causes of dry mouth are dehydration, long-term medication use, head and neck radiation, chemotherapy, diabetes, stress, aging, autoimmune diseases, dentures, trauma to the mouth, high salt diets and smoking. Managing dry mouth can be difficult, and over-the-counter products have very limited efficacy since people often respond differently. Most dry mouth products serve to relieve the symptoms and come in the form of lozenges, gels, and sprays. Other dry mouth remedies help to stimulate saliva production. When evaluating products, it is best to seek glycerin-based products that are free of alcohol.
The best strategy for avoiding dry mouth is preventing it in the first place: hydrate adequately, quit smoking and engage in healthy lifestyle choices that reduce reliance on medications. Of the more than 20,000 medications in the marketplace, several hundred cause dry mouth and is responsible for more than 60% of all reported dry mouth cases. The most common over-the-counter and prescription medications strongly associated with dry mouth include:
1. Antihistamines and decongestants
3. Chemotherapy medications
5. High blood pressure medications
6. Heart disease medications
8. High cholesterol medications
At Ueno Center, our goal is to help patients live the healthiest life possible, free of disease. When lifestyles lead to better health, there is less dependence on medication. Ask your Ueno Dental Center Specialist provider how they can help you evaluate the cause of your dry mouth and the offer the best path to reducing dry mouth.