Xerostomia (Dry Mouth)
The hot weather is here! During the summer months staying hydrated is important for the health of your whole body. The human body is 60% water. Water plays a significant role in maintaining multiple systems inside us. Xerostomia, or dry mouth, sounds like a very minor thing, but it has far reaching effects on dental health. There are things we can do to prevent dry mouth and keep our mouth healthy.
The easiest and most effective way to avoid Xerostomia is to not get dehydrated. Not drinking enough water, not surprisingly, can leave your mouth dry. Drink lots of water especially if you are out in warm weather.
Exercise is important for our overall health, but when we work out hard it can cause dry mouth. Our muscles need more oxygen to optimize performance. That is why athlete’s breath through their mouth when exercising, bringing in as much oxygen as possible to fuel active muscles. We are not saying to stop exercising, rather, be aware that extra hydration is needed when exercising to compensate for the effects of massive amounts of dry air passing through your mouth.
Other Lifestyle Choices
Other lifestyle choices can cause dry mouth as well. Smoking tobacco or chewing it, cuts down your salivary flow and destroys cavity-fighting antibodies. This addictive substance has destroyed many people’s dental health. Avoid it if you can. Hard drinking aka… doing shots can also leave your oral tissue dry and irritated. Some alcohol-based mouthwashes will do this as well. The quickest way to Xerostomia is also illegal. Heroin, cocaine and amphetamines (such as MDMA and ecstasy) can all leave the mouth dry and vulnerable to decay.
There are also many natural causes of Xerostomia like hormonal changes and old age. Many health issues and the prescription drugs we use to treat them can also dry out your mouth.
Effects of dry mouth
Left untreated, xerostomia puts your mouth at risk for serious dental issues.
Saliva washes away food particles, keeps your mouth moist and fights cavity-causing bacteria. Your saliva contains antibodies that help stop decay before it starts. When you are low on saliva, harmful bacteria can grow, leaving your mouth at risk.
Long term dry mouth causes cavities, gum disease, tooth loss, burning mouth syndrome, difficulty swallowing and lack of taste.
What to Do?
Drink more water, brush and floss 2 times daily, eat regular meals, avoid alcohol, coffee and smoking, use artificial saliva products and visit your dentist regularly.
* If your dry mouth does not go away after treatment, consult your doctor and dentist. The condition can be a sign of a serious illness.