Chronic Dry Mouth?
Dry Mouth is a condition medically referred to as Xerostomia. It can be a very uncomfortable condition. Dry Mouth occurs when the mouth does not make enough saliva to perform its vital functions. One of these functions is controlling bacteria and fungi in the mouth which helps to prevent infections and tooth decay. Dry mouth with braces is particularly common – especially during the early stages of orthodontic treatment. Dry Mouth can cause serious tooth decay therefore it is important to be aware of its symptoms.
Common Symptoms of Dry Mouth:
- Frequent thirst
- A sticky, dry feeling in the mouth
- A dry, red, raw tongue
- Sores in the mouth, split skin or sores at the corners of the mouth, cracked lips
- A dry feeling in the throat
- Bad breath
- A burning or tingling sensation in the mouth, especially on the tongue
Some Causes for Dry Mouth:
For those undergoing orthodontic treatment, it is possible that your braces are irritating your mouth. While braces positively improve your oral health, they are still a foreign object on your teeth. Your body responds to this foreign object by trying to prevent it from harming you. Sometimes this can lead to painful sores in the mouth. A common side-effect of this irritation is that your gums will swell. This swelling then limits your saliva production, which leads to dry mouth symptoms.
If you occasionally have acute cases of dry mouth with your braces, you may only see it as a mild nuisance. However, chronic Dry Mouth puts your mouth at risk for serious infections like thrush, and can dramatically increase your chance to develop tooth decay and gum disease.
However, not everyone with braces will have dry mouth. The intensity and length of dry mouth symptoms vary from person to person. You may have it for just a few days, or for a few months.
Other factors can bring about or aggravate a dry mouth condition:
- Medications – Medications such as antidepressants, antihistamines and painkillers are a common cause of Dry Mouth.
- Dehydration – This would include dehydration from illnesses or conditions that cause fever, vomiting, excessive sweating, etc.
- Smoking – Smoking can aggravate a dry mouth condition.
- Diseases – Certain diseases such as diabetes, anemia, cystic fibrosis, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s disease to name a few.
- Damage to the salivary glands – Medical treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy to the neck can damage the salivary glands. Of course, there can also be a situation where the salivary glands have to be removed.
- Nerve Damage – A person could suffer nerve damage from a head or neck injury that could cause the saliva glands to not function or function improperly.
Fortunately there are some things you can do to help relieve Dry Mouth.
5 Remedies for Dry Mouth
- Hydrate. Drink plenty of water to help keep your mouth moist.
- Proper Oral Care. Brushing, flossing and rinsing regularly.
- Breathing. Breath through your nose, not your mouth, as much as possible.
- Humidifier. Use a humidifier to add moisture to the bedroom air.
- Saliva Substitutes. There over-the-counter products that help substitute for the lack of saliva.
If you suspect you may have dry mouth it is important to let your Orthodontist know. Your Orthodontist will check your teeth for signs of decay that can result from decreased salivary flow.
If Dry Mouth is not treated it can lead to serious tooth decay. If you suspect you may have Dry Mouth be sure to let your Orthodontist know so that it can be treated. Please feel free to contact us at McDonough Orthodontics.
Wishing you the best for 2020,
Dr. David McDonough