Oral Health Buzz
Dry Mouth Treatment: How Your Dentist Can Help
Dry mouth can be uncomfortable, and the lack of saliva can attract oral bacteria. Make an appointment with your dentist, who can help cure the condition by recommending the right dry mouth treatment or combination of methods for you.
Why Treat Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth (also known as xerostomia) can be physically painful due to the depletion of saliva in the mouth. Often, the parched sensation makes it difficult to talk and swallow food and drink. Treatment aims to improve your quality of life.
The lack of saliva also deprives your teeth of the mineral-rich solution that normally cleanses and protects the teeth. The result is an increased susceptibility to plaque formation. The treatments your dentist suggests can increase moisture in your mouth to keep plaque from accumulating and causing gingivitis.
Why Your Dentist is a Valuable Resource
You have likely been to the dentist for checkups before, so he is familiar with your individual case. The file with your health history helps your dentist accurately determine the cause of your dry mouth. Attack the cause to alleviate oral dryness.
Your dentist also has the medical background and experience to accurately pinpoint causes of the dryness. In addition to reading your file, your dentist will likely ask questions to determine causes. The only permanent way to cure the dryness is to treat the cause.
Questions your dentist may ask to determine the cause of dry mouth:
- Do you take medications? There are over 500 prescription and over-the-counter drugs commonly associated with dry mouth, according to the American Dental Association. They range from antihistamines to blood pressure and pain medications.
- Do you have Sjögren's syndrome or other systemic autoimmune disorder? Dry mouth is a signature symptom of Sjögren's syndrome, a disease that attacks the saliva glands.
- Are you in radiation therapy? Patients who undergo radiation for neck and head cancers often experience dry mouth when radiation damages the saliva glands.
- Do you smoke? Many smokers experience dry mouth. Cigarettes, pipe and cigar smokers are all susceptible.
Based on the identified cause, your dentist directs you to take products and use methods at home as treatment methods.
At-Home Actions Your Dentist Recommends
Solutions from your dentist for dry mouth may include:
- Eliminate certain foods. Avoid sugar, which dries the mouth, as much as possible. Avoid coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages that contribute to oral dryness. Avoid alcohol as it has similar effects.
- Drink through a straw. This solution applies if you have difficulties swallowing liquids.
- Increase water consumption. Drink more water and take sips throughout the day to moisten your mouth.
- See your doctor regarding medications. Book a doctor's appointment to see if you can switch medications or alter dosage to alleviate the dryness. Never alter your own medications without getting the approval of your doctor first.
Product Use, Dentist Recommended
Your dentist may also recommend you use products designed specifically for dry mouth. Products include:
- Dry mouth gel. It provides relief from your pain and discomfort.
- Fluoride toothpaste. Colgate® PreviDent 5000® (RX) brand is an example; it is specifically for dry mouth sufferers, six years of age or older. Apply a small amount of the Colgate toothpaste to a toothbrush once a day, in place of regular toothpaste, preferably at bedtime. Brush thoroughly for two minutes before extrapolation.
A visit to your dentist is an effective way to determine the cause of your dry mouth and proper treatment method. Regularly visit your dentist for checkups to give the professional time to evaluate the condition and modify dry mouth treatment as necessary.
Learn more about dry mouth causes and treatment in the Colgate Oral Care resources.
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