Signs of dry mouth disease include a dry, sticky feeling in the mouth, insufficient saliva to wet thick or stringy, a rough, dry tongue, or bad breath. Also, difficulty in swallowing, chewing or talking, a burning sensation in the mouth, or altered sense of taste are common.
There are many factors that cause your salivary glands to produce less saliva than normal. These include medications, medical conditions, and emotional stress. High blood pressure medications are by far the most common cause of dry mouth in my practice. How many people suffer from dry mouth disease is an unanswered question. We do know dry mouth disease is most likely to occur among older adults
Medications are the most common cause of dry mouth. For example, dry mouth is a side effect of more than 100 prescription and drug store medications, such as antihistamines and decongestants. Also, antidepressants are a common cause of the problem. Research has shown that many high blood pressure medications are the most common cause of dry mouth. If you are under stress, you may find you have dry mouth problems. Dry mouth symptoms can also occur as a result of hormone changes from menopause, as well as breathing with an open mouth.
Saliva is extremely important to your oral health. Saliva is 99 percent water, with other components consisting of proteins that help resist infections in the mouth, as well as enzymes that help you digest food. A healthy adult can produce up to three pints of saliva each day.
Insufficient saliva causes the tissues of the mouth to become irritated, making them inflamed and more prone to infection. Your tongue may feel a burning sensation also. Also, without saliva to wash away food debris and neutralize the acids produced by plaque, your teeth become extremely prone to tooth decay. In addition, without the lubrication effect of saliva, you may find it difficult to swallow, talk and chew your food comfortably. Your ability to taste foods is also affected.
Be sure to tell your dentist about your dry mouth condition and he will examine your mouth, as well as ask you questions about any symptoms and problems you are experiencing.
There are many home dry mouth treatments that are designed to replace moisture in your mouth. Sugar-free candy or sugar-free gum are made to increase saliva flow, special oral rinses, more frequent fluid intake, oral moisturizers & toothpastes, and medications to induce saliva production. At my office some form of fluoride is almost always recommended to help control the decay.
Most Dentists suggest that people with dry mouth avoid tobacco and limit their consumption of carbonated beverages and those containing caffeine or alcohol. Also, because dry mouth increases gum disease, infections and tooth decay, frequent checkups are strongly recommended.
It is very important for your dentist to know all the medications you are taking, because they could contribute to dry mouth and affect your oral health in many ways.