Dry Mouth Treatment Brisbane | Xerostomia Treatment
There are two important characteristics of saliva – quantity and quality (and both are affected by dry mouth). We need a high enough volume to wash away acids and sugars, and enough quality saliva to allow the positive biological effects that it provides.
We have all woken up with a dry mouth, but for some of us this phenomenon can be more than just an early morning problem.
Saliva is your body’s first line of defence against tooth decay, and those with dry mouth often have problems chewing food, swallowing, talking and may notice a lack of sensitivity to taste or a funny ‘mouth-feel’, and higher rates of dental decay.
“Saliva provides a natural defense against tooth decay and has some very beneficial properties. It is antimicrobial, neutralizes the acids produced by plaque, and it even contains phosphate and calcium. These essential elements aid in remineralization of your tooth enamel, and can even help reverse decay.” says Dr David Tuffley.
“There are two important characteristics of saliva – quantity and quality. We need a high enough volume to wash away acids and sugars, and enough quality saliva to allow the positive biological effects that it provides.”
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Symptoms of Dry Mouth
Persistent dry mouth is known as Xerostomia. This condition affects 25% of older people and close to 10% of the younger population, and the following symptoms are often associated with the condition –
- A rough feeling mouth, cracked lips or dry tongue
- Saliva feels thicker or tacky
- Bad breath
- Issues chewing & swallowing (especially dry foods)
- A burning sensation in the mouth
- A white tongue or susceptibility to oral thrush
- Increased incidence of tooth decay
“The symptoms of dry mouth may stem from a greater health problem, such as side effects from medications, or diabetes. Seeing your dentist or GP is the best way to gain an understanding about the cause of your dry mouth,” says Dr David Tuffley.
Dry mouth may even indicate an undiagnosed health issue, for example, Sjorgen’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that affects your ability to produce tears and saliva. The causes of dry mouth are varied, and if you want to know more we have put together a guide.
Treatments for Dry Mouth
Dry mouth is often a side effect of medication or a symptom of an underlying medical condition. Dental treatments for this condition are generally aimed at managing the discomfort, while the underlying cause is diagnosed.
“As dental professionals, we have many tests available that can provide helpful data relating to the cause of your dry mouth. These allow us to rule out many of the different causes and underlying issues.”
“We are able to analyze factors such as glycemic levels, saliva quality & quantity, and acid buffering potential – and these all give us insight into the best treatments and health strategies for you,” says Dr David Tuffley.
For relief from dry mouth, we recommend the following products –
Products like Biotene can be used several times throughout the day, and are designed to provide immediate relief from the effects of dry mouth.
Although they lack some of the antimicrobial and digestive enzymes present in natural saliva, these substitutes effectively mimic the way saliva coats and lubricates the mouth. These qualities can provide immediate relief and assistance when talking, eating and chewing.
These saliva substitutes are not always readily available, and if you are having problems finding these products, please ring us, or ask your pharmacist to help find the product directly.
For a natural alternative, you may wish to mix up a spray bottle of water with a teaspoon of olive oil. Spraying your mouth with this mixture can provide relief and help you to rehydrate, and the oil will help keep the mouth lubricated and moist.
One of the most important impacts of dry mouth is a lack of saliva for remineralization of your tooth enamel.
These products provide the necessary fluoride, and will help you maintain your dental health while you are affected by dry mouth.
Rinsing your mouth with a solution of sodium bicarbonate and water will help neutralize the pH of your mouth.
Sodium bicarbonate should be mixed with water at a ratio of 1 teaspoon to 1 cup of water (equivalent to 4 teaspoons per litre). This can be mixed once daily, and is best used after each meal and before brushing.
If your dentist establishes a link between dry mouth and oral thrush, then antifungals may be prescribed. Oral thrush is a yeast infection that displays in the form of a white tongue, and a burning sensation in the mouth.
Tips For Managing Dry Mouth
Diet and fluid intake are two factors that greatly impact dry-mouth, and the following dietary information may help you manage your symptoms.
Even in the case of a more serious underlying medical condition, these tips are still applicable to help minimize your discomfort.
Frequently sipping water is a great way of minimizing the effects of dry mouth. We recommend carrying your own bottle, so you have some immediately on-hand whenever dry mouth occurs.
Small spray bottles can also be a great way of keeping your mouth moist, particularly if you find you are drinking excessive amounts of water trying to counteract dry mouth.
Saliva flow is promoted while chewing sugar-free gum, and this is a great way of signalling your body to make more saliva. This will not be as beneficial for people who have issues producing from their saliva glands, such as the previously discussed Sjogren’s Syndrome.
Many of us may have noticed a dry mouth after a packet of chips or crackers, and obviously, a salty diet can be a major contributor to the condition.
Similarly, water is needed by the body to process sugar, and a salty or sugary diet will exacerbate the effects of low saliva production. Lowering these types of food can be very beneficial!
Spicy foods (e.g. chilli) and acidic foods (e.g. lemon) are both known to irritate dry mouths, so indulging in a minimal amount is a good idea if you are experiencing discomfort due to dry mouth.
Acidic and sugary foods have negative impacts on your dental health (as discussed here (link)), and a lack of available saliva to dilute these foods will increase these effects.