You wake up with a mouth that’s a dry as the desert. Your tongue feels like sandpaper every morning until you can get a drink of water and brush your teeth.

You make think this is an unfortunate but manageable part of your life, but it may be affecting your oral health.

In the long-term, dry mouth increases your risk for gum disease and tooth decay. We don’t want our patients to experience either of these problems at Bayou Dental Group in Monroe, LA.

If you are having persistent problems with dry mouth, keep reading to understand how it affects your mouth.

Causes Of Dry Mouth

Dry mouth can occur for a number of reasons. Many of them fall under one of three broader categories.

► Activity

It shouldn’t be a surprise you that the things that we do have consequences. Exercise can help us improve our cardiovascular health. Working up a sweat can also leave you dehydrated, which is why it’s important to drink water during and after your workouts.

Tobacco and alcohol use also may cause dry mouth. Some of the ingredients in tobacco products can affect the amount of saliva that you produce. Alcohol (in drinks and in mouthwash) affects the soft tissues inside your mouth.

And we sincerely hope this is not your issue, but many drugs can dry out your mouth as well.

► Medical Issues

This can be a direct result of a particular condition or a side effect medications you may be taking.

People with diabetes and HIV are more prone to dry mouth that the general population. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease may not remember to drink water like they should.

Individuals with asthma may have dry mouth due to breathing through their mouths or from using inhalers. Cancer medicine and treatments and antihistamines are a few examples of medications that can dry out your mouth.

► Aging

As we get older, we are more prone to dry mouth. You can look at this like other parts of aging. Your eyesight may decline. Your hearing may not be as good as it once was, and your salivary gland may not work as well as they once did.

Hormonal changes have been connected to dry mouth as well. Women going through menopause, for example, may be more susceptible to dry mouth.

Dry Mouth And Your Oral Health

Saliva plays an important role in helping to maintain a healthy mouth.

The average person will create between two and four quarts of saliva per day. While saliva is mostly water, it also has proteins and minerals that protect your teeth and gums.

Saliva makes it easier to remove food particles from your teeth.

You may already be aware that bacteria live and grow in your mouth. These bacteria use the sugars in your food to build plaque and to produce acids.

These acids can eat through the protective enamel on the outer layers of your teeth. When this happens, you are experiencing tooth decay. The longer this goes undetected or untreated, the more damage it will do to your teeth.

If bacteria attack your gums instead of your teeth, then you may notice the symptoms of periodontal disease.

Infected gums bleed more easily (perhaps when you are flossing or brushing your teeth), or they appear red and swollen. Untreated gum disease can make those tissues feel tender and sore, lead to pockets inside your gums, and damage the bones that hold your teeth in place.

How To Combat Dry Mouth

Now that you know some of the causes of dry mouth and some of the potential consequences, we want you to know what to do if you are experiencing dry mouth.

  • Drink water. This may be the best thing that you can do. It helps prevent dehydration, and it introduces water directly into your mouth.
  • Eat meals regularly. When you eat, it stimulates saliva production. This, in turn, keeps your mouth from drying out.
  • Skip alcohol and tobacco products. As we noted earlier, both of these substances can affect the soft tissues inside your mouth.
  • Limit or avoid caffeine and carbonated drinks. Both of these also may cause your mouth to become dry.
  • Brush your teeth twice each day and floss daily. These remove bacteria and plaque that cause tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Chew sugar-free gum. Again, chewing can stimulate saliva production, and sugar-free gum is a better option than candy or gum with sugar to do this.
  • Come to Bayou Dental Group for routine cleanings. When we examine your mouth, we will look for the signs of dry mouth and other oral health problems.

If dry mouth is a persistent problem, you may want to ask about artificial saliva.

Regardless of whether you have dry mouth or you need a checkup, call our dentist in Monroe, LA, at (318) 302-4236 or fill out our online form to make an appointment.