Chronic Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)
Dry Mouth Can Be Harmful
Oral health includes a healthy flow of saliva.
Dry mouth (also called xerostomia) is usually just a short term symptom of dehydration. However, if reduced saliva flow becomes a chronic issue, it can lead to more serious dental problems. That’s because saliva coats teeth to provide a protective layer against bacteria, so reduced saliva leaves teeth more vulnerable to cavities and tooth decay.
Anyone can experience reduced saliva, but it occurs more as we age and tends to affect women more often than men. Additionally, many prescription medications include dry mouth as a side effect, so be sure to recognize this as a possible cause.
What many of my patients may not know is that there’s a serious disorder that includes reduced salivary function, and it’s called Sjögren’s Syndrome. This autoimmune disorder primarily strikes women over 40 and may grow progressively worse through mid-life. Sjögren’s syndrome is primarily characterized by dry mouth, but may also include dry eyes, skin dryness, or fatigue. Sufferers often experience a huge increase in cavities and oral ulcers (canker sores) as well.
Fortunately, xerostomia and Sjögren’s are both treatable, and we can monitor for early signs of cavities and decay during routine checkups.
Dry Mouth Tips
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
- Check side effects of medication.
- Avoid tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine.
- Chew sugar-free gum.
- Try rinses designed for dry mouth.
- Nighttime snoring or mouth breathing? Try a humidifier.
- Regular dental checkups to monitor oral health.
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Dr. Angela Burns moved to Austin 10 years ago and instantly fell in love with our beautiful city. Dr. Burns is originally from the Texarkana area. She attended Texas A&M for her undergraduate degree and The University of Tennessee Health Science Center for her degree in dental surgery (DDS). Dr. Burns is committed to providing her patients with gentle, technologically advanced dental treatment. She attends an average of 60 hours of continuing education every year. She is a member of the American Dental Association, the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, the Texas Dental Association, and the Capital Area Dental Society. Dr. Burns and her husband, Gary, have an 11-year-old daughter, Sydney, who is a proud 6th grader at Hill Country Middle School. She is also very involved in the Eanes PTO, her church, and loves raising her family in the Westlake community. “Growing up, I was drawn to mediating and helping others feel more included and less anxious. I was a camp counselor, student government officer and being the oldest of five, I was the family mediator. I found that I had a calling to help alleviate stressful situations for others and realized that being a good listener was something that was key to this. These skills really helped guide me into becoming a dentist that has based my practice on relationships, empathy and a sense of comfort. I knew that I wanted to provide an atmosphere that felt like home when others walked in. Our practice is small, personal and state of the art and we hope you feel like you’re hanging out with friends when you are here!” When she is not practicing dentistry, Dr. Burns enjoys traveling, hiking the greenbelt, enjoying Austin’s music scene, and eating Amy’s Ice Cream.