It’s a feeling we’ve all experienced at some point or another: a parched, gritty, can’t-get-water-fast-enough sensation that’s unpleasant at best and dangerous at worst. Xerostomia, or dry mouth, is a medical condition that we tend to write off as mere dehydration. While taking a big gulp of water can help in the short-term, if your dry mouth problem persists, you could be looking at a more chronic issue.
Xerostomia affects around 10% of all people, but women and the elderly tend to be more at risk. Although it can appear on its own, taking certain medications can cause dry mouth as an unpleasant side effect.
So, what’s so bad about a little dry mouth? In addition to feeling like someone stuck cotton balls between your gums, not enough saliva can put you at risk for quite a few dental problems, including problems chewing and swallowing, cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. Because saliva helps to wash your mouth out after you eat or are exposed to bacteria, it’s your first line of natural defense against these oral health issues.
If you suspect your dry mouth is caused by a medication you’re taking, consult your doctor to see if another medication is available to you. Otherwise, a few lifestyle changes may be in order. Continually sipping water throughout the day, avoiding overly salty or spicy foods, and steering clear of caffeine and alcohol can all help to restore some moisture to your mouth! If your xerostomia persists, contact your dentist. Together we can work on a solution to keep your mouth in working order!