A doughy, sandpaper-like feeling in the mouth, bad breath, and difficulty swallowing are symptoms of a chronic dry mouth — symptoms that JoAnn Gurenliandental hygienist and director of education and research at the American Association of Dental Hygienistsexperienced herself when undergoing cancer treatment several years ago.
“It was so bad that at one point my tongue was stuck to the roof of my mouth,” Gurenlian said of this common problem, which she says can be caused by a number of things, including medications, autoimmune disorders and underlying conditions like diabetes. .
dr corey brickA New York City-based dental surgeon told HuffPost that if left untreated, a chronic dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, can be the catalyst for a host of serious problems. oral health problems, namely rampant tooth decay or aggressive gum disease.
“Our saliva is protective, it contains antibodies that help fight and neutralize bacteria that cause cavities or gum disease. With reduced salivary flow, our bodies can’t fight those bacteria as well and they can quickly build up as plaque,” Brick said. Gurenlian added that recurrent mouth and fungal infections can also become a risk.
The vital role played by a healthy supply of saliva also goes beyond plaque control. It is also necessary to consume and digest food properly.
“With reduced salivary flow, people can have difficulty eating and digesting their food, leading to heartburn, reflux and poor nutrition,” Brick said.
Guerlian noted the toll dry mouth can take on mental health, too, saying it can affect a person’s ability to enjoy their food or socialize.
“If you’re taking an antihistamine because you have a sinus problem or you have hay fever and seasonal allergies, this could be something that’s just a very temporary situation,” he said. “But if you notice that your symptoms are building up and not going away, even after you’ve stopped taking your medication, it might be time to go to your doctor or dental professional and say, ‘What can I do about this? East?'”
Even years later, Gurenlian remembers the discomfort that dry mouth caused him in his day to day life, but insists that one should not suffer in silence. In addition to creating a personalized treatment plan with his dental professional, he said hope can also be found in over-the-counter products, some of which we’ve put together in the list below with the help of our dental experts.
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A lubricating spray for dry mouth
One of Brick’s favorite oral sprays to stimulate saliva production is this one from Lubrity, a tasteless, odorless spray that instantly relieves dry mouth. It’s formulated with five simple ingredients including xylitol and hyaluronic acid, a powerful humectant that draws moisture into the skin.