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Understanding Dry Mouth and How to Combat It

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Your mouth naturally produces saliva to help keep itself clean and moist and to reduce the risk of bacteria accumulation and infections. In addition, that saliva plays an important role in your digestion. When your mouth doesn't produce saliva the way that it should, the dryness can be uncomfortable. If you suspect that you might have dry mouth, here are a few things that you should know.

What Are the Symptoms of Dry Mouth?

There are many different symptoms that can come along with dry mouth. It is important that you know how to recognize these symptoms to address the problem as soon as possible. One of the most common symptoms of dry mouth is an overwhelming dry, sticky feeling inside your mouth. You'll probably also notice a frequent, persistent thirst.

If you've been struggling with dry mouth for a long time, it can actually cause the skin around your mouth to split. You might even have sores inside your mouth. Over time, it can also interfere with your ability to talk, swallow, and chew. Some people also experience burning and dryness in the throat and tingling sensations on the tongue.

What Kinds of Things Cause Dry Mouth?

Dry mouth can be caused by many things, including medications you might be taking and certain illnesses. Before you can successfully treat the symptoms, you need to identify the underlying cause. Otherwise, the dry mouth condition will persist.

As mentioned, some medications, both prescription and over the counter, can cause dry mouth. If you've recently started taking a new medication and noticed the symptoms begin, there may be a connection. Talk with your pharmacist or your dentist today to see if something you're taking is to blame.

Patients who have suffered nerve damage may also experience dry mouth symptoms. This often occurs when the nerves that transmit messages between the salivary glands and your brain suffer damage because they cannot tell your salivary glands to function as they should.

Sometimes autoimmune diseases and other medical conditions can also cause dry mouth. One autoimmune disease, called Sjorgren's syndrome, is a notable cause of dry mouth. If you've recently been diagnosed with Sjorgren's, talk to your dentist about how to combat the dry mouth symptoms.

What Treatments Are There for Dry Mouth?

The treatments for dry mouth are as varied as the causes. The first and most important part of treatment is to treat the root cause. Getting an autoimmune disease under control, treating your nerve damage, and potentially changing a medication you take may all help to ease the symptoms.

If you're a smoker, you'll want to quit smoking. Smoking tobacco in any form can contribute to some dry mouth conditions. You might also want to start drinking more water on a regular basis. Soda, caffeinated drinks, and other sugary drink choices can also worsen symptoms. Consider also adding sugar-free chewing gum to your must-haves. The chewing gum will help stimulate some saliva production.

Ask your dentist about a prescription mouth rinse or other oral care regimen changes that can reduce your symptoms. Sometimes, changing your toothpaste and incorporating a saliva-stimulating mouth rinse can help. Installing a humidifier in your home will help you to minimize dry air, which can contribute to dry mouth. Especially during the winter months, the dryness in the air can worsen your symptoms, so put a pot of boiling water on the stove once a day if you don't have a humidifier.

If you've been struggling with dry mouth symptoms or recently diagnosed with persistent dry mouth, you should talk with your dentist about the treatment choices available to you. In addition to a dentist's care, your physician may be able to help you deal with other root causes. Find more info here.