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What Is Dry Mouth And How Do I Prevent It?

What Is Dry Mouth And How Do I Prevent It?

Battling dry mouth isn’t an annoyance…it’s actually a serious oral health concern that can drastically impact your teeth. “Cotton mouth” as it’s sometimes called, is as good of a reason as any to seek out some professional advice from your family dentist 


Do You Have Xerostomia? 

The clinical term for dry mouth is “xerostomia.” It occurs when the salivary glands inside of your mouth — for one reason or another — are unable to produce enough saliva to keep your mouth well lubricated. As a result, you can experience side-effects like: 


  • Soreness or chafing of the lips, cheeks, and gum tissues 
  • Bad breath (halitosis 
  • Significantly more cavities 
  • An inability to comfortably wear removable prosthetics (dentures, partials, etc.) 
  • Difficulty eating or swallowing 


Xerostomia can be self-induced through specific habits or as a side-effect of medical conditions and treatment. Pinning down the cause of your chronic dry mouth is the first step in treating the symptoms or alleviating some of the annoyance. 


Avoid Alcoholic Mouth Rinse 

Sometimes using too many oral health products can dry your mouth out…especially if they contain alcohol. Because alcohol is an anti-microbial and serves to help ingredients active inside of your mouthrinse, it’s a very common ingredient among the leading brands. However, this also means that people who use mouth rinse on a daily basis are more likely to dry their mouths out because of the ingredients.  

Using tobacco products can dry your mouth out just as much.  


Get Checked By Your Doctor 

Undiagnosed medical conditions could be the root cause of your dry mouth. For example, Sjögren’s syndrome can cause severe dryness. Xerostomia is one of the most common symptoms that these individuals experience on a day-to-day basis.  

Always review your comprehensive medical history with your dentist, so that he or she can take their knowledge and apply it to oral manifestations or symptoms that you’re struggling with. As experts of the head and neck, your dentist can work closely with your primary care physician to determine the formal diagnosis.  


Check Your Medication 

Did you know that one of the leading side effects of medications is dry mouth? It doesn’t matter if your drugs are prescription strength or over-the-counter. Particular products such as allergy or decongestant medications often dry the mouth out along with the drainage that you feel in your sinuses. Should symptoms be severe, talk to your medical doctor about whether or not other options are available to choose from.  


Planning For Cancer Treatment/Radiology 

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with cancer and are planning to have radiation treatment, you need to see your dentist before treatment starts. Radiation can cause a decrease of saliva flow as it often destroys the salivary glands around the mouth. Your dentist can help you plan for treatment and create preventive steps that reduce the presence of dry mouth symptoms.  


Products To Alleviate Dry Mouth Symptoms  

The first thing you want to do if you have dry mouth is to increase your water intake. Opt to drink fluoridated tap water, as the mineral levels are regulated (this isn’t always the case for bottled water you buy at the store.) 

Next, consider a dry mouth rinse, which can lubricate your oral mucosa (tissues) to help them glide more freely. Some people complain that these products make their mouth feel “slimy,” but the benefits often outweigh the disadvantages.  

Chew sugar-free gum with xylitol, to stimulate saliva flow. Xylitol is also effective for reducing plaque buildup, which can help you avoid extra cavities.  


The Risk To Your Teeth 

Having a dry mouth will significantly increase your rate of developing cavities. Xerostomia is often just as hard on your dental health as a diet filled with acids or sugar. As such, it’s vitally important to see your dentist on a routine basis to protect your smile. Together, you can take steps to intervene tooth decay through preventive cleanings, frequent exams, and professional fluoride treatments.  

But what if you aren’t able to schedule a six-month dental checkup because you don’t have dental insurance? At, our dental savings plans make a great alternative for patients and their families without traditional dental coverage. Each discount dental plan can save members between 10-60% on routine and preventive oral health services. Contact us today to join! 

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