Dry mouth and associated dental damage

Lack of saliva leads to a dental condition know as dry mouth

There is nothing worse than when you are about to give an important speech, perhaps as best man at a wedding or a business presentation, when you feel your mouth getting drier and drier until you find it difficult to talk.

Sometimes this is rectified simply by taking a sip of water, but for some people, this condition, also known as xerostomia, is more permanent and can have consequences of which they may not be aware.

The condition is caused by not producing sufficient saliva to keep the mouth hydrated. It is a natural condition which occurs in all of us from time to time and is manageable but for others, it can cause dental problems if it happens too often. This is due to saliva being a natural defence against the bacteria which occur in our mouth and which left untreated, will cause plaque build up and eventually gum disease. This can also of course have the effect of producing bad breath which nobody wants to have, especially in social circles.

If dry mouth persists, it is advisable to visit your dentist or doctor, however, there are a few things which work for a lot of people and are worth trying before taking any further action.

1. Make sure that you stay hydrated and drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Chewing a sugar free gum may also help you to produce more saliva without damaging your teeth.

2. Avoid smoking and alcohol as much as possible as these will add to the dehydration. Excess salt too may have a similar effect.

3. If you are on prescription medication, some of these cause a dry mouth as a side effect. Of course, this may be the price to pay for treatment of a serious illness, but if it is causing you a major problem, talk to your doctor who may be able to prescribe an alternative depending on the illness.

If you have been suffering from a dry mouth for some time and have left it untreated, you should also pay a visit to your local dentist to make sure that the plaque build up has not caused any problems and to have the plaque removed. Unless it has reached an advanced stage, this is usually done through a scale and polish which removed thicker layers of plaque and tartar. Whilst it is not a painful procedure, it can be uncomfortable and some dentists will offer to administer a local anaesthetic before doing this.

So, remember, that having a dry mouth is best avoided and if the initial solutions don’t work, don’t ignore the problem and make an appointment with your dentist or doctor to have it treated.