Ask The Dentist – Dry Mouth

A patient asks whether a dry mouth could be an oral health issue.

The next in our series of questions comes from a Waltham Cross dental patient who asks about having a dry mouth and whether this can be improved through dental care.

Q. I am now in my sixties and have started to notice that I seem to have a dry mouth a lot of the time. This tends to be worse first thing in the morning but is fairly persistent. I have had a dry mouth before, but this could usually be put down to being dehydrated because of the heat, or, occasionally after a social event the night before, when I had been drinking. As this affects the mouth, I wondered if this is something that a dentist can treat?

Hi, and thank you for your question. We will answer it in three stages. Firstly, the possible causes, secondly, potential consequences of a dry mouth, and, finally how you can help to reduce it. First of all, we should say that a dry mouth is not something that can be directly treated by a dentist and is not necessarily a sign of poor oral health. There are potential dental and oral health issues that can arise from having a dry mouth though, and we will look at that later.

With regards to the causes of dry mouth; this can be many-fold. Common causes are not drinking enough water during the day, but it is also a common side effect of many medications, especially blood pressure, heart and depression medication. If you are taking any of these and your dry mouth is severe, we recommend discussing this with your doctor who may be able to offer alternative medication, if appropriate.

As we get older too, we tend to produce less saliva, and it may well be that your dry mouth is purely a result of this.

Having a dry mouth though, is more than simply an inconvenience, and can have a real negative affect on your oral health. Saliva flow is important in the prevention and control of harmful bacteria which contribute to both tooth decay and gum disease. These are the two most common problems that our dentists at The Lodge Dental Suite see in patients on a daily basis. Minimising dry mouth is important in keeping your teeth and gums healthy, and we will look closer at that in a moment. However, suffice to say that if you do suffer with it, regular dental checks are important so that any problems can be spotted and treated quickly before significant damage is done.

Finally, how can we prevent a dry mouth? The most obvious way is to ensure that you stay well hydrated, especially before going to bed. Drink water (not sugary drinks) before you are thirsty rather than when you actually feel thirst. Little and often is usually the best way. Avoid too many sugary foods which can increase the bacteria in the mouth, and, if you are on medication, you may wish to discuss this potential side effect with your doctor.

As mentioned before, seeing a dentist on a regular basis will help to keep your mouth problem free. We are based in nearby Cheshunt, so convenient for Waltham Cross and other local villages in Hertfordshire. We will be pleased to assist you so why not call the reception team at The Lodge Dental Suite today on 01992 643388 to make an appointment.