dentist Santa AnaDo you experience dry mouth? Did you know that frequent dry mouth can harm your oral health? It’s true; persistent dry mouth affects all facets of your oral health and will increase your risk for periodontal (gum) disease and dental caries. Many people mistakenly believe that dry mouth is just an annoyance and therefore do not take steps to preserve their wellbeing. Fortunately, there are methods for improving one’s symptoms and professional treatment from a dentist for this common condition.

Causes of Dry Mouth

A number of factors can cause dry mouth. The medical term for this condition is xerostomia, and when dry mouth persists, it will affect both hard and soft oral tissues. Some causes of dry mouth are related to diet. For instance, too much sodium intake will certainly decrease saliva production and therefore produce short-term symptoms of dry mouth. Certain medications and dehydration are other factors that produce these symptoms. Systemic health conditions cause xerostomia as well. For example, diabetes affects saliva production and in turn, causes long-term xerostomia.

Affects of Xerostomia

Most noticeably, dry mouth affects the soft oral tissues of the mouth including the gums and linings of cheeks. These tissues become inflamed when they are not exposed to proper sources of moisture like saliva. Inflammation of soft tissue – especially the gums – can affect periodontal health. Additionally, diminished saliva production negatively affects pH in the mouth. An acidic environment will slowly damage tooth enamel, thus making teeth especially vulnerable to bacteria that cause dental caries.

Treatment for Dry Mouth

When addressing xerostomia and determining the best course of action to take, our dentist may first recommend dietary alterations and lifestyle changes. Many times, patients’ symptoms improve with simple changes. For instance, if you suffer with dry mouth, be sure that you are drinking at least 64 ounces of water each day, monitoring sodium intake, and practicing good oral hygiene. Patients with conditions like diabetes or those who take mouth-drying medications should sip on water throughout the day as well. Many folks benefit from reducing intake of sugary and acid foods/beverages, too. If dry mouth persists, our team may prescribe mouth rinses or recommend other types of treatment.

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