Xerostomia (Dry Mouth): Overview

The new year is upon us!

At Avalon Family Dentistry, we’d like to begin 2023 by tackling an issue that our patients battle daily – xerostomia.

Also known as dry mouth, xerostomia is a condition in which the salivary glands in your mouth don’t make enough saliva to keep your mouth wet.

It’s also a condition that occurs naturally as we age.

But it can be made much worse by certain medications and medical conditions.

And we know very well how frustrating it can be.

So let’s see what we can do about it!

More Concerning Than You’d Think

“Why is this even a concern?” some people may ask.

Because a healthy saliva flow is needed to keep bacteria levels as low as possible in the mouth.

As you may have heard our team say, the mouth is the dirtiest part of your body.

Saliva helps “wash” away bacteria in between the times you brush and floss your teeth.

When you experience xerostomia, bacteria are left to sit on the surfaces of the teeth, making them more prone to decay.

And the last thing you want to hear from us when you come in is that you have cavities, right?

That is also the last thing WE want to tell you!

The good news is some causes of xerostomia CAN BE controlled:

  • Hydration
  • Stress
  • Smoking & tobacco use

As long as you keep these under the control, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be able to stave off xerostomia.

That said, there are also xerostomia contributors that we have less control over:

  • Aging
  • Cancer therapy
  • Medical conditions like Sjogren’s Syndrome and Anxiety disorders
  • Certain medications
  • Injury or surgery

So, what can you do to proactively help your oral health?

Be Your Own Advocate

With your medical health professionals, that is.

One thing that has become evident to our team at Avalon Family Dentistry is that not all medical professionals look at the entire body.

They focus on treating one thing without acknowledging how other parts of the body will be affected.

With that said, your own education and personal advocacy are the best tools you will ever have to remain as healthy as possible.

Avoid The Usual Suspects

These include:

  • Gum
  • Tobacco
  • Caffeine
  • And more.

For gum, try chewing on sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free hard candies to stimulate the flow of saliva. We recommend products that contain Xylitol. It will STARVE the bacteria in the mouth, causing it to die!

Regarding caffeine, we’d recommend limiting your intake and brushing your teeth after every cup.

And as far as tobacco is concerned, quitting it entirely is always the best way to go.

Oh, also, remove any alcohol-containing mouth rinses from your home-care routine.

Other than that, you can also benefit from:

  • Sipping water continuously throughout the day
  • Avoiding over-the-counter decongestants and antihistamines
  • Adding moisture to your air at night (such as by humidifier)

Reconsider Your Diet

The research our team at Avalon Family Dentistry has investigated shows a definitive link between the Ph levels in our bodies and the level of dry mouth we might experience.

We could dedicate a whole blog post to the topic, but we’ll keep it brief for now.

The average western diet isn’t particularly healthy, so it can help to adjust your food intake.

An anti-inflammatory diet can help normalize the Ph in your body. This may help your overall health.

Furthermore, your meals and drinks (other than water) need to be consumed in a timely fashion. Extended snacking and drinks will increase the potential for dry mouth.

Stay Healthy – We’ll Help!

And that’s the gist of things.

Indeed, xerostomia is a topic that our amazing hygienists, Marie and Diana, are passionate about.

So, if you have questions, let Tanya know when you schedule your recare with Marie or Diana.

They will gladly review things with you and make further recommendations to keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible!

If your recare appointment is scheduled out, and you have concerns now, we can get you in for a consultation at your earliest convenience!

We look forward to 2023 being a year that empowers all of our patients to better oral (and general) health!