Saliva is very important in maintaining good oral health. Saliva can control the bacteria in the mouth, thus helping to prevent caries infections (cavities). When you don’t have enough saliva in your mouth, you are more susceptible to tooth decay and other infections.
“Dry mouth” is the feeling that there is not enough saliva in your mouth. Symptoms include a dry, sticky feeling in the mouth, trouble swallowing, tasting, speaking, or chewing, a burning sensation in the mouth, cracked lips, a dry, rough tongue, a dry feeling in the throat, an infection in the mouth, and mouth sores. Consistently experiencing dry mouth can be a sign of disease.
Both children and adults can experience dry mouth. Dry mouth can be caused by:
- Diseases, such as HIV/Aids and diabetes, that affect the salivary glands.
- Chemotherapy. The drugs used to combat cancer can increase the thickness of the saliva and make the mouth feel dry.
- Nerve damage. Patients who have suffered injuries to the neck or head may have damaged the nerves that control saliva production.
- Radiation therapy. Exposure to radiation during cancer treatment can damage the salivary glands.
- Medication, including medications for common ailments such as asthma.
At our dental practice in Westborough, MA, we can help you find a solution to your dry mouth. If your dry mouth is a result of your medication, your doctor may be able to adjust the dosage or change the medication. The dentist may suggest prescription therapies that will help keep your mouth wet. Gum or candy that contains Xylitol and water-based oral rinses may help saliva production, too. (Remember to stay away from any rinses that contain alcohol.) Also, it is very important to drink plenty of water throughout the day.