Dry mouth, officially called Xerostomia, is a common condition and often temporary. However, when a dry mouth becomes chronic, it turns into a serious dental health concern.
Most dry mouth is a temporary condition caused by a case of nerves or perhaps from a night of drinking. But if the condition is chronic, then the lack of saliva will make you more susceptible to cavities and gum disease, which could lead to the need for restorative dentistry to repair damage to your teeth.
You should contact your dentist if dry mouth has become chronic in your life. A dentist can help determine the cause and help manage the symptoms to reduce the chance of dental problems. Dr. Wayne Myles, a cosmetic, restorative, and general dentistry expert in Reston offers dry mouth treatment to manage symptoms and avoid complications.
WHY IS DRY MOUTH A PROBLEM?
Dry mouth occurs when you lack sufficient saliva to moisten your mouth. Saliva is important because in addition to making it easier to talk and eat, it is also your first line of defense in oral health. Saliva washes food particles out of the mouth and off teeth, which limits the growth of bacteria. Saliva also neutralizes the damaging acids produced by bacteria.
If you lack sufficient saliva, you will be more vulnerable to oral health problems, including tooth decay, gum disease, and infections in the mouth.
Signs that you lack sufficient saliva include:
- Difficulty tasting, chewing, and swallowing
- Hoarseness, dry nasal passages, or sore throat
- A sticky, dry feeling in the mouth
- A dry, red tongue
- Sores in the mouth
- Cracked lips or split skin at the corners of the mouth
WHAT CAUSES DRY MOUTH?
There are several causes for chronic dry mouth. Among them:
- Medications. This is the most common reason for chronic dry mouth. Many prescription and non-prescription drugs reduce the flow of saliva. These include drugs that treat pain, allergies, colds, depression, anxiety, obesity, acne, diarrhea, and asthma.
- Diseases and Infections. Specific medical conditions can cause dry mouth. They include Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that attacks the glands that make saliva and tears; HIV/AIDS; Alzheimer’s disease; diabetes; rheumatoid arthritis; hypertension; and stroke.
- Medical Treatments. The glands that produce saliva can be damaged during medical treatments, such as radiation of the head and neck or chemotherapy treatments for cancer.
- Lifestyle. Some common habits can cause a dry mouth, such as smoking or chewing tobacco, which can affect saliva production. Alcohol and recreational drugs can also cause dry mouth.
HOW IS DRY MOUTH TREATED?
Treatment for dry mouth will depend on the cause and how severe your case is. If medication is making your mouth dry, you may be able to switch your medication or reduce the dosage. If it is not possible to eliminate the cause of dry mouth, you will need to manage the side effects.
Treatment focuses on:
- Increasing the flow of saliva
- Relieving symptoms by moisturizing your mouth
- Preventing oral health problems with meticulous oral care and frequent checkups
DENTAL STAINS CAUSED BY FLUORIDE
Fluoride can cause intrinsic and extrinsic dental stains, though not in the way that you’d think. Rather than yellow or brown stains, overexposure to fluoride can lead to chalky and over-white patches on the teeth.
DENTAL STAINS CAUSED BY TOOTH DECAY AND INJURY
Dental problems can cause stains to occur, some extrinsic (such as those causes by cavities and tooth decay) and some intrinsic (such as those caused by root canal infections).
OPTIONS FOR DEALING WITH TOOTH DISCOLORATION AND STAINS
For most extrinsic stains and discoloration, professional teeth whitening treatment can work wonders and brighten the teeth up to eight shades. When stains are especially dark, porcelain veneers may be a more ideal solution. For intrinsic stains, porcelain veneers tend to be a better option for masking the discoloration from view.
When the discoloration is related to tooth decay or tooth injury, the best option is a restorative treatment that rebuilds tooth structure and masks the aesthetic flaw from view, such as a dental crown, an inlay, or an onlay.
LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR OPTIONS FOR COSMETIC DENTISTRY
If you would like more information about the different kinds of tooth discoloration that people can experience and how our team can help you achieve a more appealing smile, be sure to contact our Reston, VA cosmetic and restorative dentistry practice today. Our team will carefully assess your dental care needs and help you look your very best in the process.