If you have ever suffered dry mouth, you know exactly what cottonmouth is. The technical term of the condition is xerostomia, which is when your mouth is not producing enough saliva. In many cases, this is a temporary condition, but it can also be an ongoing problem, in which case you will need to seek some type of treatment.
Basic Facts About Cottonmouth
The American Dental Association estimates the average person produces about 1.5 liters of saliva every day. When your body stops producing that saliva, cottonmouth is the result. This is a problem in that saliva serves far more purposes than just keeping your mouth moist. Saliva is also responsible for cleaning the mouth, aiding in digestion, and maintaining a neutral pH level.
The signs of cottonmouth will vary from individual to individual, at least in how they perceive the condition. The mouth may become sticky, or extremely dry, even to the point of feeling as though someone has stuffed your mouth full of cotton balls, hence the name. Consistent cottonmouth can also result in dry or cracked lips, sore throat, as well as difficulty chewing, talking, or swallowing.
Causes and Treatment of Cottonmouth
Just as people experience cottonmouth in different ways, there are numerous factors contributing to cottonmouth. Among them:
· Lifestyle – a “partying” lifestyle can often result in cottonmouth. Bad habits such as excessive drinking, smoking, and drugs can all create the condition. TREATMENT: the obvious answer here is to simply make lifestyle changes and cut back on the behavior that is creating the problem. You can also make sure you drink water when you are out socializing, as alcohol works to dehydrate the body.
· Medical Conditions – while there are several medical conditions, the most notable is Sjogren’s Disease. This condition is an autoimmune disease which created damaging inflammation to the salivary glands. TREATMENT: in addition to having the condition diagnosed and treated, be sure to keep a water bottle close by to take sips from throughout the day. You can chew sugarless gum to keep your mouth moist throughout the day.
· Medications – this may be the most common contributing factor for most people. More than 500 medications currently list cottonmouth as a side effect of taking the medication. TREATMENT: if you change medications and immediately notice cottonmouth, let your doctor know, as a change in medication may address the problem. If that does not work, keep a water bottle close by to take sips from throughout the day. You can also chew sugarless gum to keep your mouth moist throughout the day.
· Radiation Therapy/Chemotherapy – patients receiving treatment, especially when it is in the head and neck area, will often report cottonmouth as a side effect. In all likelihood, you will experience this condition as long as you are going through the treatments. As stated above, try to sip water regularly as well as chewing sugar-free gum to keep your mouth moist.
If you are in need of a Gahana, OH dentist, consider the Sampson Dental Group. In addition to Gahana, we also serve Columbus, Granville, Powell, and Westerville. For more information about our dental services or to make an appointment, please contact us today!