Chronic Dry Mouth (Xerostomia) Explained

While dentures themselves don’t cause dry mouth, many denture wearers struggle with feeling thirsty or having difficulties producing enough saliva for a comfortable fit. While the occasional instance of a parched or “cotton” mouth is completely normal, chronic dry mouth can have serious ramifications to your overall dental health.

What is Chronic Dry Mouth?

Chronic dry mouth, or xerostomia, is a persistent lack of saliva in the mouth. Saliva helps protect your teeth and mucus membranes from bacteria or acids. It assists in eating and digestion, and it helps carry the flavors of your food.

It is not unusual to experience intermittent bouts of dry mouth. But when these symptoms become frequent, recurring, and not easily connected to a recent action or behavior, then your dentist may explore the possibility that you are experiencing chronic dry mouth.

What Are The Most Common Symptoms of Chronic Dry Mouth?

A lack of saliva in the mouth can cause your mouth, throat, and tongue to feel:

  • Dry
  • Sticky
  • Sore
  • Grooved or overly textured
  • Clumsy or hard to move
  • Uncomfortable

Over time, untreated chronic dry mouth can cause difficulties eating, chewing, and swallowing. You may also discover your sense of taste has changed, or that your dentures are harder to wear.

Saliva helps cushion your dentures against your gums and prevents friction, so new discomfort, tenderness, or pain when wearing your dentures can be a sign of chronic dry mouth.

Since saliva protects the teeth, dry mouth can also accelerate tooth decay, gingivitis, and mouth infections — which is why it’s very important to inform your dentist if you start experiencing any of these symptoms.

What Causes Chronic Dry Mouth?

If you’re experiencing symptoms of chronic dry mouth, ask a medical professional if it could be caused by one of the following:

  • Certain medications, including cold medicines and OTC pain relievers
  • Chronic dehydration
  • Age
  • Smoking
  • Damage to salivary glands due to injury or illness
  • Certain medical conditions, like diabetes or autoimmune diseases
  • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy

Do Dentures Cause Chronic Dry Mouth?

Absolutely not! Many denture wearers find that their saliva production increases as they adjust to wearing dentures. However, the condition that predisposes a patient to loosing their teeth and wearing dentures can most often be linked to the chronic dry mouth they expreince. (For example, age. Medication or smoking)

During the denture adjustment period, denture wearers may also find themselves drinking less water or taking additional pain medication, which can exacerbate chronic dry mouth.

If you wear dentures and are experiencing these issues, it’s extra important to inform your dentist. If left untreated, an excessively dry mouth in dentures wearers can cause soreness, bleeding, and in some cases even open wounds in the mouth from friction and pressure which will leave you vulnerable to infection.

What is the Treatment for Chronic Dry Mouth?

Identifying the cause of dry mount is very important in determining the right treatment modality . Sometimes it can be as simple as changing a behavior, and sometimes it requires a little more intervention.

One of the most common treatments for dry mouth is to increase your intake of water. Not only does water have an immediate moistening effect in your mouth, it can also help treat dehydration which may be contributing to the issue.

Using a humidifier or turning the heat down in your home can also help you retain more water and reduce chronic dry mouth symptoms.

People who smoke are also more likely to experience chronic dry mouth than those that do not, quitting your smoking habit will be very helpful.

You can also talk to your doctor about current medication management that may be causing this issue.

Your dentist may also recommend certain over-the-counter treatments, such as special mouthwashes or oral gels to help you treat dry mouth.

You Deserve to Love Your Smile

If you have chronic dry mouth, or xerostomia, it’s imperative to stay on top of your regular dental cleanings and care.

If you have dentures, addressing symptoms of chronic dry mouth is especially important to resolve immediate discomfort and protect your gums from damage or infection.

At Affordable Dentures and Implants, we offer regular dental care as part of our holistic smile-restoring services. If you’re experiencing symptoms for the first time, we can help you get ahead of the problem and resolve symptoms before they cause long-term damage. If you’ve been experiencing symptoms for a while, we’ve got the knowledge and solutions to help you get your smile back.

Call your local office to schedule your first consultation today.

We Believe Everyone Deserves to Love Their Smile

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