What is Dry Mouth and Why is it a Problem?

Family Dentist

You wake one morning and lunge for a glass of water to soothe your parched mouth and the problem resolves itself quickly. If, however, this describes the state of your mouth more often than not, you’ve likely got xerostomia, the medical term for chronic dry mouth. 

The team at Trident Dental in Houston, Texas, understands how seemingly small problems like dry mouth can lead to much larger issues. 

With that in mind, here’s a look at dry mouth and its potential complications.

Dry mouth 101

Dry mouth is a condition in which your saliva glands aren’t functioning properly, which can occur for many reasons, including:

  • Age
  • Certain medications (think antihistamines or decongestants)
  • Radiation therapy
  • Sjögren’s syndrome (an autoimmune disorder that attacks the glands that produce moisture)

While everyone can experience occasional dry mouth due to dehydration, stress, or fear, ongoing issues can have a widespread impact on your health.

Why dry mouth is problematic

The saliva in your mouth is there to perform several functions. To begin, your saliva is the first step in your digestive process as it starts breaking down food before you swallow and enables easier swallowing. It also helps to keep food moving along rather than lingering inside your mouth.

Saliva also plays a critical role as your body’s first line of defense against pathogens that enter your mouth, and plenty do on a daily basis.

Also, your saliva plays a key role in neutralizing the acids produced by the myriad bacteria in your mouth.

Rounding out the long list of benefits, your saliva contains calcium and phosphate, which help promote strong, healthy teeth.

What this all means is that dry mouth can lead to:

  • Tooth decay
  • Gum disease
  • Difficulty swallowing or talking
  • Sore throat
  • Fungal infections
  • A change in your sense of taste
  • Bad breath
  • Sores or splits around your mouth

As you can see by this list, dry mouth can be very problematic, which is why resolving the issue is important.

Resolving dry mouth

Since dry mouth is caused by poorly functioning salivary glands, the goal of our treatments is to increase their output, which we can usually achieve with mouth rinses that are specifically designed to address dry mouth. Further, there are certain tips you can try on your own that can help, like sucking on sugar-free candies to promote salivation.

If you’d like to find a solution for your dry mouth, call Trident Dental at 281-975-4942, or request an appointment online.