Dr. Laura K. Geiger, DDS of Southeast Family Dental in Indianapolis, Indiana explains what dry mouth (xerostomia) is and what you can do about it.

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Ever feel like you need a lot of water to eat your food? Or do you feel like you can’t taste things like you used to? Do you ever have difficulty swallowing? You may be having what we call xerostomia, or dry mouth.

Hi, I’m Dr. Geiger with Southeast Family Dental. Today we’re talking about dry mouth. Some other symptoms of dry mouth include saliva that can feel thick and stringy, sores or cracking at the corners of your mouth, bad breath, and the most obvious, feeling of dryness in your mouth.

Some causes of dry mouth… the main culprits are medications and age. As we get older and we’re taking more medications, that combination can make it even worse. We also have mouth breathing. If you’re a mouth breather that can lead to dry mouth. And then cancer therapy and other health conditions can also cause dry mouth.

So I have dry mouth, so what? The problems with dry mouth is you can risk of decay, gum disease and infections in the mouth. And it’s important for us to be able to rule out health conditions that may or may not be diagnosed. So if you have dry mouth make sure you’re talking with your doctor and you dentist.

And then what do you do? The most common thing people use and the easiest to employ is chewing sugar free gum. Lots of people chew gum. Make sure you chew sugar free gum. It increases the saliva flow and can wash the plaque and bacteria off your teeth.

There are also products that you can get over the counter at drug stores such as rinses, gels and toothpastes that are formulated for dry mouth. Most people, these are… most are the ones that can really tell that they have dry mouth that use these and benefit from those.

Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. And in certain cases, there are medications that can increase saliva flow but again, that’s certain cases, not for everyone so again talk to your dentist or doctor.

And then lastly, it’s very important to have regular dental checkups. Because of the increased risk of decay and infection you really need to make sure you’re having your teeth and gums checked regularly.

Again, this is Dr. Geiger with Southeast Family Dental and remember, we can make you smile.