Xerostomia — The Medical Term for Dry Mouth

Simply put, when you experience “dry mouth” you are suffering from a lack of saliva in your mouth.  By itself, it is a symptom of some other cause which could be a disease or it could be a side effect of some medicines you may be taking.  This is fairly common and those meds could be either over the counter drugs like antihistamines for allergies or decongestants for a cold.  Diuretics, the medicines which cause your kidneys to maker more urine, pain killers, and the prescriptions for conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease can also cause dry mouth.

 

While we think of saliva as simply something necessary for us to eat and swallow more easily, the truth is, saliva really protects our teeth from decay and the delicate tissues within the mouth healthy.  When we eat, saliva helps to clean the food and bits of food from our teeth and protects us from bacterial infections and disease.  Saliva can neutralize acids released by certain bacteria and fights off germs which enter our bodies through our mouths.

If ignored, dry mouth, while bothersome, can give you a constant sore throat, leave you hoarse, cause a burning feeling, make it difficult for you to talk, and dry out the passages of your nose.  In less common cases of dry mouth, it can be signalling a disease called Sjogren’s (pronounced as “Show-grins) syndrome. An autoimmune disease, Sjogrens can affect not only the mouth but other parts of the body as well. If you are experiencing chronic dry mouth and do not take any medicines which might cause this, you should contact your physician for an evaluation.

Saliva is very important to your overall health, and can cause significant tooth decay.  Speak with Dr. Gehrig and he will have recommendations for you to better moisturize your mouth and teeth.  Perhaps just some sugar free candies or gum will be all you need.  He may also suggest you try some different oral rinses or artificial saliva.  Call the Fort Pierce office today if you are experiencing discomfort from “Dry Mouth”.

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Filed under: Geriatric Dentistry

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