Do you breathe through your mouth when you sleep? How about taking multiple medications? Are you undergoing radiation or chemotherapy?
If so, you need to be aware of the dangers of dry mouth. It doesn’t sound very threatening, but dry mouth can lead to serious, long-term oral care issues which in turn can affect other parts of your body. It can even lead to constant bad breath!
Dry mouth is a lack of saliva that can be caused by medications (drugs to battle high blood pressure, for example) or medical treatments such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Other causes include physical issues such as night mouth breathing or sleep apnea.
Why should you be concerned about dry mouth?
Well, it can affect your eating habits and lead to a less-than-healthy diet and it can even make it difficult to hold a conversation because of impairment of your speech. More commonly it causes problems for your gums (peritonitis, for example) that can result in lesions in your mouth and all of these can have a negative effect on the rest of your body and your quality of life.
It is this last part that is emerging as a key health issue that is being explored through ongoing research. Some of that research is aimed at confirming a link between gum disease with problems throughout the body: from the cardiovascular system (being part of the clogged artery discussion, for example) to having an effect on the onset of osteoporosis and even a potential link to be part of the cause of premature births.
What can you do to minimize the effects of dry mouth? Well, first, you can discuss it with your dentist during your twice-yearly checkups and cleanings. On a daily basis, you can try to drink more water, restrict caffeine and use sugar-free gum or candy as a way to keep or help generate saliva in your mouth.