Dry mouth is a condition that an estimated 1 in 4 adults suffer from. Not only is it sometimes a symptom of a greater health problem, it can cause many oral health issues. So what exactly is dry mouth, what causes it, and what are its effects?
What is dry mouth?
It’s what it sounds like: the sufferer’s mouth is dry. This is because the salivary glands are not producing enough saliva to keep the mouth wet. Dry mouth can have the following symptoms
- Sticky or dry feeling in mouth
- Bad breath
- Thick, stringy saliva
- Sore or dry throat
- Altered sense of taste
- Grooved or dry tongue
- Difficulty keeping dentures in place
- Difficulty speaking, chewing or swallowing
Why is dry mouth a problem?
Dry mouth can cause a number of oral health issues because saliva neutralizes acids and washes away other harmful substances. Saliva also has protein and other components that help with tooth remineralization, which keeps teeth strong. A dry mouth can become a breeding ground for bacteria, which lead to cavities, thrush (oral yeast infection), increased plaque, mouth sores, and gum disease. Because it causes difficulty with chewing and swallowing food, sufferers may also suffer from malnutrition, if unable to eat certain types of food.
What causes dry mouth?
Dry mouth can be a side effect of certain medications or chemotherapy treatments – if you’re taking any medications and are experiencing dry mouth, check to see if this is a listed side effect. It can also occur with age or can be a hereditary condition. Dry mouth can also be symptomatic of a serious health concern, such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, autoimmune disorders, nerve damage, or strokes.
Tobacco, alcohol, and drug use (particularly methamphetamine) can cause or increase dry mouth symptoms, as can more benign conditions such as thrush, mouth-breathing, and snoring. Temporary feelings of dry mouth, which can result from dehydration or stress, can also occur.
Dry mouth is more than just uncomfortable or inconvenient – it can be a sign of a serious condition and can cause oral health problems all on its own. Suffering in silence could lead to tooth decay, oral infections, gum disease, and more, and could be caused by a number of things. If you’re experiencing dry mouth, discuss your symptoms with a dentist to determine the cause of your dry mouth, and how best to treat it in order to avoid future oral health problems.
If you’re suffering from dry mouth, talk to a dentist today! Drs. Creason, Weber, Mountford & Ruszkowski would be happy to help you out.
“Bad teeth” could mean teeth that are damaged, decayed, or missing, which can be serious physical health problems, but it could also mean that your teeth are stained, yellow, or not perfectly straight – a cosmetic issue. While it’s obvious why you should have dental problems like tooth decay fixed immediately, there is also a huge benefit to cosmetic dental work. Cosmetic dental problems can often take a toll on your mental state.
They can contribute to poor self-esteem
If you’re unhappy with the way you look, your negative feelings can affect your mental well-being. Feeling like your teeth look bad can make you feel inadequate. This can result in feelings of depression and isolation, which can cause you to withdraw from other people and from activities that you enjoy because you feel that other people will see and judge the appearance of your teeth.
They can make you feel self-conscious
If you are concerned about the way your teeth look, you might spend a lot of mental energy worrying about their appearance. You might try to hide your teeth and avoid smiling. Smiling is an important way that we communicate or show emotions to other people. Refusing to smile might make you seem unconfident, unhappy, and unapproachable; these things might reinforce feelings of isolation and increase your feelings of self-consciousness about your teeth.
You could miss out on the benefits of smiling
Smiling is good for you! Studies have shown that smiling can increase feelings of happiness, amusement, and joy. Forcing a smile when you’re not happy can even trick your brain into feeling happier. When you smile, serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins (all feel-good chemicals) are released in the brain. For the same reason, smiling also reduces stress.
Numerous studies have also shown that smiling makes us look better. Smiling people are perceived as more likable and attractive than those who don’t smile. It also helps us communicate with others (most communication is actually nonverbal), and can even be contagious! When you smile, the people who see you are more likely to smile, too. That’s like giving away a little dose of happiness.
If you think you have “bad teeth,” you shouldn’t let them get in the way of your mental health. Self-esteem, confidence, and happiness are powerful components of well-being, and your teeth shouldn’t be keeping you from them. If you’re self-conscious about the way your teeth look, having some cosmetic dental work could make all the difference.
If it’s time to get your teeth whitened, get fitted for dentures or veneers, or otherwise improve your smile give us a call!
We all know that going to the dentist is important, but it’s possible that we don’t appreciate just how important it is. While regular dental checkups are crucial for healthy teeth and gums, they can also be the first step to preventing or treating numerous conditions. A trip to the dentist might even save your life. How?
Since your dentist will be closely examining your mouth, they will likely be the first person to observe oral symptoms of a health condition. Serious and possibly life-threatening conditions including diabetes, oral cancer, heart disease, acid reflux, osteoporosis, Crohn’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis all have oral symptoms that you dentist may observe during a regular dental cleaning.
||Reduced saliva production, dry mouth, chronic bad breath
||Discoloration of the mouth or throat
||Periodontal disease (gum disease) in patients with good oral hygiene
||Bone loss in the jaw and bone structures surrounding the teeth and mouth
||Small, painless bumps on the gums, near teeth
||TMJ (temporomandibular joint dysfunction) including pain and limited jaw movement
||Swelling or bleeding gums, bad breath and taste, bone loss, loose or drifting teeth, tooth sensitivity, formation of abscesses
If your dentist observes any of these symptoms during an oral check-up or cleaning, he or she can alert you to the possibility and severity of the condition, and refer you to specialists or to your doctor for further examination and possible treatment. Oral symptoms, such as dry mouth in diabetic patients, may often be one of the first warning signs of a condition, and so the mouth is the first line of defense when it comes to early detection and treatment for these ailments.
If it’s been awhile since you’ve made it to the dentist, it might be a good time to schedule an appointment. At Creason, Weber, Mountford & Ruszkowski Family Dentistry we’re taking new patients, so make sure to call our office or schedule your appointment online.
Oral health is an oft-neglected component of well-being, but a crucial one. When it comes to kids, who are growing, developing, and not too concerned with health and wellness, it’s important for parents to set them up for success. One major component of dental health is strong teeth, and there are plenty of foods that kids can eat to support strong and healthy teeth; maybe even some they like!
Try not to groan when your kids ask for mac and cheese…again. Unless your children are lactose intolerant or dairy-free for another reason, dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt can help support strong teeth. They contain calcium, an important mineral for bone strength.
If your children are dairy-free, almonds are an excellent alternative source of calcium. Bonus: almonds are high in protein and low in sugar, and they make plenty of palatable milk substitutes from them.
Think spinach, kale, and the like. Just don’t ask us how to get your kids to eat them. Dark leafy greens are another food high in calcium, and they’re also high in folic acid, which is good for gums.
Meat, eggs, and fish
All of these options–in addition to high protein content, which is necessary for a strong body–are high in phosphorous, which helps keep tooth enamel strong. Bring on the fish sticks.
Water is obviously healthy, but if your water has added fluoride, it can help strengthen teeth. If your water doesn’t (e.g., you have a well instead of city water), you can purchase bottled waters that have added fluoride. Additionally, other beverages and foods which are made or prepared with fluoridated water may retain some of that fluoride and the associated tooth-strengthening benefits.
Grains get a bad rap these days, but when it comes to strong teeth, they can be a boon. Many breads and other grain products are made using fortified flours, which have added vitamins and minerals, including the all-important calcium. Good thing PB&J sandwiches will always be in style.
A diet rich in nutrients and minerals is essential to raise strong and healthy kids, with strong and healthy teeth. Childhood is a foundation for the rest of a child’s life, especially when it comes to health, and dental health is a part of that. Incorporating some of the foods listed above can help fortify your children’s’ diets, and their teeth.
Have your kids gotten cavities anyway? Set them up with an appointment at Creason, Weber & Mountford Family Dentistry.
Going to the dentist isn’t everyone’s favorite thing to do, and oftentimes, people ignore serious oral health issues to avoid the dentist entirely. In addition to your recommended bi-annual dental check-up, you should see a dentist if you experience any of the following.
1. You Broke a Tooth
This seems obvious, but if you broke a tooth, you should see a dentist as soon as possible to have the situation evaluated. If left unexamined, a broken tooth could lead to an infection or tooth decay, as well as further breakage and pain. If necessary, your dentist can cap your broken tooth to prevent potential issues or for aesthetic reasons, so your tooth looks whole again.
2. Your Teeth Hurt
Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire, and where there’s pain, there’s usually an underlying issue. Don’t self-diagnose or just suck it up–see a dentist and find out what’s causing the pain. Tooth pain can occur as a result of myriad issues, including clenching or grinding your teeth, tooth decay, gum disease, new teeth coming in, or shifting teeth.
3. You Have Persistent Bad Breath
If you have bad breath, despite having good oral hygiene, you should definitely get checked out. Bad breath can be a sign of gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease, which can result in periodontitis and serious health issues. Chronic bad breath is also a symptom of a number of other conditions, and shouldn’t be left untreated. Even if your halitosis isn’t a result of a medical condition, your dentist will be able to help you control your bad breath.
4. You Have Mouth Sores
Any sore lasting longer than a week should warrant a dental examination. Mouth sores can be caused by a variety of conditions, and could be indicative of a larger health problem, or could lead to bacteria entering the bloodstream, causing infection.
5. Your Gums Are Inflamed
Like bad breath, gum inflammation can be a sign of gingivitis or poor dental hygiene. In either case, seeing a dentist is crucial to rectifying the problem, whether it’s a more vigorous and consistent flossing routine or something more serious.
6. Sensitivity to Hot and Cold
If you have trouble eating or drinking hot or cold foods and beverages, you should see a dentist. Many people have sensitivity to hot and cold, and your dentist may just recommend a mouthwash or toothpaste that reduces sensitivity; however, the issue may be the result of an exposed nerve or receding gums, which indicate larger oral health issues requiring treatment.
The issues we’ve mentioned above should not be taken lightly, as left untreated, they could cause serious health issues down the road. If you experience pain, sensitivity, inflammation, sores, bad breath, or tooth breakage, be sure to make an appointment with a dentist to evaluate and treat the problem, before it escalates.
Time to see a dentist? Give our office a call!