Going to the dentist isn't any fun, but it is one of those things that just has to be done. For years, I fought the process and didn't go for my regular cleanings and in the end, it sure didn't pay to do so. I ended up spending ten times as much time in the chair and a boat-load of money in dental repairs. If you don't like going to the dentist, you can make it easier on yourself. This blog will show you a few tips that can help you improve the experience and get through the treatment without as much discomfort.
going to the dentist with less anxiety
Dry Mouth: What It Is, What Causes It, And How You Can Experience Relief
Everyone experiences a dry mouth at one point or another in their life, but a consistently dry mouth that interferes with daily living is a medical condition that needs treatment. Persistent dryness of the mouth and upper throat is known as xerostomia and is not only a problem in its own right, but also can be a sign of more serious illness. Below is more information on xerostomia and what you can do about the problem:
What is xerostomia?
Xerostomia is actually a symptom, or cluster of related symptoms, occurring due to the lack of saliva within your oral cavity. Xerostomia can manifest itself in a number of ways:
Persistent, extreme dryness in the mouth
Difficulty eating and swallowing
Loss of taste, particularly in the morning
Abnormal thirst that can awaken you from sleep
Burning or irritation in your oral tissues
Appearance of mouth ulcers
Cracked, dry lips
If you are experiencing any of the above problems on a consistent basis, then you may have xerostomia. The next step is to make a determination as to why you suffer from the condition, and your dentist can assist with a diagnosis and subsequent treatment plan.
What causes xerostomia?
Discovering why you have xerostomia isn't always easy, so that's why your dentist and physician need to be involved. Below are several possible causes, some of which are more common than others:
Dehydration - For many sufferers of xerostomia, the problem is simply due to lack of fluid intake and can be easily corrected by drinking more water or other liquids.
Sleep apnea - This condition is often diagnosed in persons who suffer multiple interruptions in their normal breathing patterns during the night. Sleep apnea is also associated with mouth breathing, and this leads to oral dryness and its related problems.
Diabetes - While usually not the only symptom, xerostomia is a sign of diabetes in some individuals.
Nasal obstruction - If you have a deviated septum or allergies that impair your ability to breathe, then dryness can occur due to the need to breathe through your mouth.
Medications - Many common prescription and over-the-counter medicines are known to cause xerostomia as a side effect, including some antidepressants, antihistamines, and cold medications.
Environmental - A lack of moisture in the air can contribute to dryness of the mouth, especially for those individuals who may be used to more humid conditions.
What can be done to treat xerostomia?
Fortunately, xerostomia can be effectively treated in a number of different ways. Below are some of the more common things that can be done by you and your dentist or doctor to help stop dry mouth from negatively impacting your life:
Treat an underlying serious condition - Your dentist or physician will be in a good position to treat xerostomia if they discover a more serious underlying problem. For example, diabetes can be managed successfully with exercise, diet and medications. If sleep apnea is the culprit in your xerostomia, then a positive-ventilation device can do wonders to help you sleep better and end nighttime dry mouth, too.
Drink plenty of fluids during the day - A good rule of thumb to follow is to drink between one-half and one ounce of fluids per day for every pound you weigh. For example, a 200-pound person should drink between 100 and 200 ounces of liquids per day, depending upon their amount of exercise and exposure to dry, hot conditions. In addition, while it may be good to drink a few sips of water right before bed, keep in mind that distributing your fluid intake over the course of the day is best.
Chew sugarless gum - Gum that contains sugar substitutes, particularly xylitol, can increase the production of saliva and help keep your mouth moist. An added benefit is the reduction in potential problems with bad breath and cavities, too.
Use a humidifier - A cool mist humidifier can help aid your nighttime breathing by providing a boost to the moisture in the air. However, keep in mind that humidifiers must be regularly cleaned and have the water replaced to avoid becoming a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.