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What is dry mouth?

Dry MouthDry mouth is usually due to dehydration. Meaning that, you don’t produce the saliva you need to keep the mouth moist. It's common for your mouth to become dry if you're feeling anxious or nervous.

How can dry mouth happen? When the oral cavity is lacking saliva, problems may arise. Saliva helps prevent tooth decay by neutralizing acids produced by bacteria, limiting bacterial growth and washing away food particles. Saliva also serves to enhance your ability to taste and makes it easier to swallow. In addition, enzymes in saliva aid in digestion.

Problems of dry mouth patients include a burning sensation or soreness in your mouth, having dry lips that easily crack and bad breath (known as halitosis). Besides that, they will have a decreased or altered the sense of taste and recurrent mouth infections, e.g. oral thrush, tooth decay and gum disease.

There are ways to treat it. Take for instance, by increase your fluid intake, this can stimulate your salivary glands to produce more saliva.

Also, we recommend that you suck on ice cubes – the ice will melt slowly and moisten your mouth. Another useful tip is to avoid alcohol (including alcohol-based mouthwashes), caffeine and smoking – these can all make a dry mouth worse.

If the measures above don’t help, you should speak with your dentist. They might suggest an artificial saliva substitute to keep your mouth moist. This may come in various forms, such as spray, gel or lozenge. Use it as often as you need to, including before and during meals. This method has shown to be helpful for dry mouth sufferers.

If your dry mouth is caused by radiotherapy or Sjögren's syndrome, a medication called pilocarpine may be prescribed. This is taken as a tablet multiple times a day to help stimulate your salivary glands to produce more saliva.

If you have questions about dry mouth or other dental issues, please Contact Us today.  With dental offices in South Riding, Fairfax, we are close to your home and work in Northern Virginia. 

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