Causes–and Complications–of Dry Mouth
Did you know that saliva is the mouth’s primary defense against tooth decay? We speak the truth…saliva is a really big deal! Saliva helps wash away food, fortify your teeth with minerals, and neutralize acids produced by bacteria in the mouth. It is crucial to your oral health, which is why if you experience dry mouth, Dr. Brunacini and Dr. Karagiorgos want to know. Dry mouth, also known xerostomia, can be a symptom of another medical issue or a side effect of certain medications. It can be a particular issue for patients over 60. So, what causes dry mouth? And what are the complications that can result from it? Let’s take a closer look:
Causes of Dry Mouth
Dry mouth is not a disease, but can be a symptom of other medical conditions. One example is Sjogren’s Syndrome, a chronic autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own moisture producing glands. Other conditions that can cause dry mouth include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and cystic fibrosis. Hormonal changes in the body like women experience during pregnancy and menopause can also impact saliva production. Dr. Brunacini and Dr. Karagiorgos are part of your health care team, and if you have a medical condition that impacts your saliva or mouth, it is helpful to keep us in the loop. Share your medical history with us so we can help you be proactive about your symptoms and your oral health.
Along with your medical history, it is also important to share what medications you take with Dr. Bruncini and Dr. Karagiorgos. Certain medications can have dry mouth as a side effect. These medications can range from chemotherapy to antidepressants to over-the-counter antihistamines. Dry mouth is one of the most common adverse side effects and fortunately there are options to help restore moisture to your mouth. Sharing your medication list with us helps us know all the factors contributing to your oral health so we can help design a treatment plan that is right for you.
Complications of Dry Mouth
It can be uncomfortable to experience dry mouth and problematic to your dental health. You may experience complications such as a sore throat, trouble speaking, difficulty chewing and swallowing, or notice that your saliva feels sticky and that you have bad breath. Mouth sores and yeast infections are other complications that may arise. If you wear dentures, you may experience issues with their fit and comfort without proper saliva production. Your mouth will also be exposed to more bacteria which puts you at a higher risk for tooth decay and gum disease.
Don’t worry, if you’re experiencing some of the discomfort associated with dry mouth, we can help! Talk to Dr. Brunacini, Dr. Karagiorgos, or your hygienist. We will have tips and recommendations to help you find relief while you care for your teeth and mouth. For example, we can help you find a sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva and restore moisture, or steer you towards oral rinses that will replace moisture. As always, remember to keep brushing twice a day and flossing once a day! If you have more questions or concerns about your oral health or would like to schedule an appointment or consultation, give us a call at 207.781.5900.
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