A reduction of saliva flow resulting in a dry mouth is a common issue, especially among older individuals.
Dry mouth is not only uncomfortable, it can cause tooth damage. Saliva is required to keep the mouth lubricated, wash the food from teeth, and neutralize the acids that can cause plaque. Extensive tooth decay can develop in the absence of saliva for dental patients with chronic dry mouth.
Symptoms of dry mouth include:
- Dry, red or grooved tongue
- Persistent sore throat or hoarseness
- Sticky feeling in the mouth
- Saliva that seems thick and stringy
- Bad breath
- Difficulty chewing, speaking and swallowing
- Changes in taste
- Difficulty wearing dentures (Mayo Clinic)
Contributing elements include medications and treatments, reduction in the body’s ability to metabolize medication, chronic health dilemmas, and poor nutrition.
For example, chemotherapy medication can lower saliva production and radiation treatments to the head and neck can damage salivary glands, decreasing saliva production.
Other medical problems include diabetes, stroke, or yeast infection in the mouth.
Decongestants, blood pressure medications, antidepressants, and painkillers (all used extensively in Lafayette) are some of the medications that can result in dry mouth.
It is common for allergy-prone Boulder County Smiles dental patients to complain of dry mouth when they start taking antihistamines during the hay fever season.
The following can also contribute to dry mouth:
- Snoring or breathing through the mouth
- Drinking alcohol
- Tobacco use (cigarettes, e-cigarettes, chewing tobacco)
- Recreational drugs
If you suffer from dry mouth, it’s critical to pay special attention to your dental health. The first step is to talk to a professional. Call Boulder County Smiles to schedule an appointment with Dr. Gordon West.
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