You may be experiencing xerostomia commonly referred to as dry mouth. It sounds like a pretty benign symptom, but for chronic sufferers, it is very disruptive to daily life and has some worrying causes with major health implications. Dental teams are often the first medical professionals to notice a patient has dry mouth, as many people will feel awkward or ignore the symptoms. So, let's get our dentist in Haymarket's perspective on xerostomia.
The dryness is more than a thirst; it is waking up with your lips stuck to your teeth and the inability to talk. No amount of water seems to relieve it for more than a few moments, and swallowing can be a real challenge. Sufferers often end up drinking a lot with their meals and it can come on slowly and is therefore normalised to the patient. But the reduction in saliva production has serious consequences; cavities form more easily and decay develops faster. Plaque more easily calcifies and adheres to the teeth. It also significantly contributes to bad breath; during an oral examination, the salivary gland appears inflamed and swollen shut.
There are short term causes that can make dry mouth come on overnight. This includes the side-effects of several medications; if this is the cause, talk to your prescribing physician so they can consider it against the other benefits of the medication. The onset of diabetes can be accompanied by dry mouth, so if you are in any of the risk groups, please have yourself screened by a GP.
What might it feel like if I have dry mouth?
A sensation of cotton balls filling your mouth.
Burning and roughness on the tongue and inside of the lips.
Difficulty chewing and swallowing that can result in choking.
Chronically cracking and splitting lips with recurring mouth ulcers.
How can you relieve dry mouth?
There are no at-home 'cures', many sufferers sip tepid water throughout the day and night to replicate natural saliva production.
You should avoid extremes of hot and cold beverages, consume sugarless drinks to minimise tooth decay and non-carbonated to reduce the risk of acid erosion. Caffeine has a drying effect on the mouth as do alcoholic beverages. Smoking thickens the mucus in the oral membranes, which is also unhelpful and should be avoided.
To relieve nighttime symptoms, use a humidifier next to your bed.
But suffering through this is not necessary. There are several options for stimulating saliva gland production that our dentist in Haymarketcan prescribe in our clinic. The first option would be an ointment which you can apply to your saliva glands twice daily. This will reduce local inflammation and allow blocked or aggravated glands to flush themselves.
Depending on how you respond to this treatment will determine the next stage of your care, with surgical and hormonal treatment options. But you will need to see our dentist in Haymarket to find out more, as there is no one size fits all option. Feel free to call for more information and book an appointment if required.