Tech Talk With Dr. Cranska

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By Jeffrey Cranska
Family Laser Dentistry

In upcoming months, I will answer questions on high-technology dentistry. Please direct inquiries to my website at www.cranska.com or email me at familylaserdentistry@outlook.com.

Nine Symptoms That You Have Xerostomia

Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is not a disease. This medical condition is simply the decrease in flow or a change in the quality of saliva — a change that occurs when there is a failure to keep your mouth wet. Causes of xerostomia include radiation during cancer therapy; autoimmune diseases such as Sjogren’s syndrome, scleroderma, lupus and diabetes; aging; and the top cause, taking multiple medications.

These are some common symptoms:

  • Dry feeling in mouth and throat
  • Need to continually sip beverages, with only temporary relief from thirst
  • Burning sensation in the mouth
  • Tongue is dry and sore
  • Lips and corners of the mouth are dry and cracked
  • Difficulty swallowing, chewing or talking
  • Bad breath
  • Problems wearing your dentures
  • Getting more cavities

Without saliva to help fight oral bacteria, there can be extensive tooth decay. You need to maximize salivary flow, keep your mouth wet to increase function and comfort, and prevent tooth decay.

Q: How can I prevent dry mouth?

A: Here is a list of ways to prevent and treat the effects of dry mouth:

  1. Use sugar-free gum and candies to stimulate saliva, but no sugar products, because they lead to tooth decay.
  2. Lifestyle changes: limit alcohol and caffeine consumption, and eliminate tobacco use. Drink more water.
  3. Don’t use alcohol-based mouthwashes. Alcohol in mouthwashes kills bacteria but dries out the mouth.
  4. When possible, change or limit medicines that have the side effect of dry mouth. These include antihistamines, decongestants and diuretics.
  5. Use over-the-counter rinses and saliva substitute products to lubricate and moisturize.
  6. New prescription-only relief sprays have been introduced to help relieve symptoms and are available from your dentist.

Dry mouth is not completely preventable or treatable. Treatment depends on the cause. Discuss treatment solutions with your dentist and dental hygienist. The best treatments only address the symptoms. Utilize the new dental products for maximum comfort, maintain good nutrition with proper chewing and swallowing, and limit destruction of your teeth from decay with early treatment.

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