Dry mouth, clinically known as xerostomia, is caused by reduced saliva flow, or when saliva is absent all together. It’s not a disease, but can be a side effect of certain medical conditions or medications. Dry mouth can affect the overall health of your mouth and teeth. And the dry, cold winter weather can exacerbate the problem.
Saliva is a critical player in protecting our mouths and everything inside. Without adequate saliva, our mouths feel uncomfortable and we can experience discomfort or even mild pain,
Saliva Keeps Our Mouths Healthy
Chances are you never thought about all the ways your saliva helps you stay healthy.
- Keeps your mouth lubricated
- Moistens food for easier chewing and swallowing
- Helps us speak
- Provides digestive enzymes needed in our guts
- Promote oral cleansing & fights tooth decay
- Protects hard and soft tissue in the mouth and aids with soft tissue repair
Signs of Dry Mouth
Your child may have symptoms of dry mouth and you not realize there is a problem unless the discomfort is severe or affecting the speech or ability to eat. A pediatric dentist or hygienist, like the team at Smile Surfers, is trained to recognize the signs of this condition.
- Cavities on specific parts of the teeth
- Low levels of saliva pooling under or around the tongue
- Difficulty swallowing food if not aided by liquid
- Loss of the sense of taste
- Problems speaking due to low lubrication
- Burning feeling or pain inside the mouth
So What Causes Dry Mouth?
There are medical conditions like diabetes that can create dry mouth. For pediatric patients, the cause of xerostomia is likely to be a side effect of:
- Mouth breathing
- Side effects of medications
- Restricted breathing due to a cold, stuffy nose or allergies
- Dry winter air
- Indoor heating
These conditions can happen any time of year, but can be worse during the cold winter months. Cold and flu season cause many children to take over the counter medications to alleviate uncomfortable symptoms. This medication in turn can often aggravate the already dry mouth conditions by further dehydrating them.
How to Fight Dry Mouth
Understanding the importance of adequate saliva flow is the first step. Dry mouth might be uncomfortable, but remembering it can also damage your teeth and your mouth means you want to combat it as much as possible.
Here are a few ways to fight dry mouth:
- Drink lots of water! Lots!!!
- Chew sugar-free gum to boost saliva production
- Use a humidifier in your home to put moisture back in the air
- Avoid sugary sodas and other beverages that are high in sugar
When your child is ill, medication as prescribed by a doctor, should be used according to their direction. If the medication has mouth-drying side effects, double down on drinking water to counteract the drying effects.
Smile Surfers Kids Dentistry
Two locations to serve you:
Richland: (509) 946-9999 www.Richland.SmileSurfers.com
Sumner: (253) 833-5137 www.Sumner.SmileSurfers.com