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Dry Mouth Syndrome

Mandy Ramey RDH

Dry mouth is otherwise known as xerostomia or a persistent lack of saliva. We need saliva to moisten and cleanse our mouths and to help us taste and digest food. Saliva is very important because it protects our mouth from bacterial growth and protects against infection. When someone experiences dry mouth it can be very uncomfortable and embarrassing, especially when speaking. A few symptoms that one may experience are frequent thirst, a dry and sticky feeling in the mouth, overall soreness in the mouth, cracking of the lips and corners of the mouth, bad breath, difficulty chewing and swallowing food, and difficulty speaking.

Possible causes of xerostomia include smoking, age, anxiety, dehydration, cancer therapy, mouth breathing and certain medications such as those used to treat colds, allergies, depression and anxiety.  Xerostomia can also be a symptom of an underlying disease such as diabetes or Sjorgen’s Syndrome.  Dry mouth can lead to an increase in cavities and gum disease and can also cause halitosis or bad breath.

Xerostomia might not be treatable for everyone but one should focus on good oral hygiene, drink more fluids, chew sugarless xylitol-containing gum to increase saliva flow, quit smoking, use a fluoride toothpaste and or fluoride rinse, and always visit your dentist for routine dental exams.  Products such as Biotene help to boost saliva’s natural properties and offer oral comfort.  Using a humidifier to help keep the air full of moisture at night may also help.  If medication is the problem, speak to your doctor about altering the dosage or changing your prescription.

Mandy Ramey RDH is a dental hygienist who practices with Scott Finlay DDS & Associates, in Annapolis, Maryland.  The dental office is a comprehensive restorative practice and a recognized leader in dental esthetics.  The mission of the practice is to provide dental solutions to patients to enhance and maintain their best possible smiles.  More information can be found at www.AnnapolisSmiles.com or by dialing 410.757.6681.