Are you plagued by a constant sandpapery tongue? Does your mouth feel like it is stuffed with cotton balls, no matter how much water you drink? If so, you may be suffering from dry mouth, or xerostomia. The condition can be caused by many different factors, and, as you well know, it can really disrupt your quality of life. However, you may not know that dry mouth can adversely affect your oral health, leading to cavities and other dental damage.
What Causes Dry Mouth?
There are a number of reasons that your body may not be able to produce enough saliva. These factors include:
- Certain medications: Medications are the most common cause of dry mouth. Fortunately, once you stop taking these medicines, the condition will often clear up on its own. Some of the most notorious dry mouth-causing medicines include antihistamines, antidepressants, antianxiety medications, decongestants, and muscle relaxants. Cancer treatments can also cause a decrease in saliva production.
- Other medical conditions: Sometimes, dry mouth can be the symptom of another condition, such as HIV/AIDS or another autoimmune disorder.
- Age: If you are over age 65, you are far more likely to suffer from xerostomia. Often, your body is simply unable to produce enough saliva. You are also more likely to suffer from one of the other conditions that can cause dry mouth.
- Smoking: Cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco can cause or exacerbate dry mouth.
- Nerve injuries: If you suffer nerve damage in your neck or head, you may no longer be able to produce enough saliva.
Dry Mouth, Cavities, and Bad Breath
Like most people, you may not realize the importance of saliva. The liquid, produced by your salivary glands, is made up of 99.5% water. The other half a percent is made of electrolytes, enzymes, mucus, glycoproteins, and antibacterial compounds. In particular, saliva can help your body fight against streptococcus mutans, the bacteria most responsible for cavities. Normally, your body should produce 2 to 4 pint of salvia a day. In addition to keeping your mouth moist and comfortable, the liquid can also help to wash away food, sugar, acid, and other substances. When your glands do not generate this much liquid, you have an increased risk for cavities, bad breath, and gum disease. Dry mouth can also affect your ability to taste things properly.
Fortunately, there are several ways you can treat dry mouth. A future post will cover your treatment options.
ABOUT YOUR NORTH RICHLAND HILLS FAMILY DENTIST:
With over 25 years of professional experience, Dr. Steven M. Huffstutler and his caring team proudly provide exceptional preventive, cosmetic, and restorative dental treatment to patients and their families across Dallas/Ft. Worth, including North Richland Hills, Denton, the Mid-cities, Southlake, and all surrounding communities. We also have extensive experience helping patients find relief from painful TMJ disorders (various forms of jaw dysfunction). To schedule an appointment with Dr. Huffstutler, contact our office today by calling 817-577-1444.