Smiles for Life  

Dry mouth?

Have you experienced a dry feeling in your mouth and throat? Your saliva glands may have stopped producing saliva.

Xerostomia or the sensation of a dry mouth is a common problem often seen in individuals where the saliva glands stop producing enough saliva. It can affect 10-38% of patients and is twice as common in women as in men. Some medications, radiation treatment and diseases may have damaged the salivary glands.

You cannot eat or digest food properly without saliva. Saliva coats your teeth and protects them. It controls the bacteria in our mouths so, without it, we are prone to infection and decay.

It is important to go see your doctor or dentist if you are experiencing a constantly dry mouth as it may be a sign of another illness.

Symptoms of dry mouth:

  • Dry feeling in mouth and throat

  • Thick saliva – feels like you cannot swallow or speak properly

  • Rough or raw tongue – pebbled look to the tongue

  • Constant bad breath

  • Mouth sores

  • Cracked lips

  • Ultra-sensitive to salty or spicy foods – burning sensation in the mouth

  • Unusual thirst

  • Difficulty wearing dentures


What causes dry mouth?

Insufficient water intake, breathing through your mouth, smoking, stress and dehydration from alcoholic or caffeinated beverages are possible causes.

Taking many medications such as muscle relaxants, antidepressants, antihistamines and diuretics can have a dry mouth side effect. If you are in cancer treatment, have diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Sjőgren’s syndrome (autoimmune condition where the body’s own immune system attacks its own tear and salivary glands) AIDs, hypothyroidism, Sarcoidosis (inflammation of body tissue), or have depression it is very important to see your dentist regularly as tooth decay is more likely to occur if there is no saliva to control the bacteria in the mouth.

If your symptoms are caused from taking medications you should see your doctor as he/she may be able to prescribe alternative drugs or a lower dosage. Or they may prescribe something to stimulate saliva production.

There are some simple remedies such as using a humidifier in your house to increase the moisture. Breathe through your nose as much as possible. Chew sugar free gum or eat sugar free candies available from health food store to increase saliva production. Drink plenty of water and avoid caffeine drinks. Avoid smoking and consuming alcohol.

Using Biotene® toothpaste or mouth rinse can stimulate saliva and provide relief. Our office promotes a dry mouth gel which has a neutral pH and is sugar and alcohol free. A generous amount of gel is smeared over the teeth and gums anytime during the day and before bed after normal tooth brushing.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Dr. Jack DeGruchy, a graduate of the University of Alberta has been practicing dentistry for the past 4 decades. His love of education has taken him all over the world to study and saw him completing a fellowship in the prestigious Academy of General Dentistry as well as becoming a Fellow in the International Academy of Dentistry. He has travelled to Russia, Sweden, Denmark, Japan and Africa to share dental knowledge and has learned new and innovative dental techniques during these exchanges.

He established a multidisciplinary dental centre in Kelowna and was involved in the cutting edge of many of the present day dental technologies. Jack has been involved with implant dentistry since 1985, and has trained with Straumann, Nobel Pharma and Simpler systems. He sees implant dentistry as a wonderful development in the evolution of quality dentistry and is excited about the ways in which it enhances patient care. Of particular interest to Jack is what goes on during sleep that affects the teeth, the joints and surrounding muscles. Learning is definitely a way of life for Jack.

Jack’s interest in sports dentistry resulted in his being named as dentist to the BC Lions and both the Buckaroo and Kelowna Rocket hockey teams. He has been involved in many minor sports organizations from swimming and downhill ski racing to football and hockey.

Community development is important to Jack, and he has been involved in helping bring to fruition Prospera Place, The Rotary Centre of the Arts and the Kelowna Art Gallery, of which he is a past director.He has established the Westside Dental Centre and looks forward to helping the Westside community develop.

He is a major supporter of the Canadian artist, Robert Bateman and the “Get to Know” program which is an international non-profit organization based in Kelowna that seeks to provide opportunities for youth to connect with nature through outdoor educational experiences.
Jack and his wife, Gaylene, enjoy their three children and their spouses, and they have been blessed with eight wonderful grandchildren!

You can reach Dr. DeGruchy at Westside Dental Centre at 250-707-0248 or emailing [email protected] or on the web at jdsmiles.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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