Dr. Paul Perella, DMD

DRY MOUTH--KNOW WHEN TO SEE YOUR DENTIST

Most times, you don't notice how moist your mouth is...until it isn't. Your might notice your mouth is dry first thing in the morning due to reduced saliva flow during sleep, or when you're dehydrated and need fluids. However, there are some instances where people suffer from chronic dry mouth also known as xerostomia.

Chronic dry mouth can be more than uncomfortable. It can have a greater effect on your oral health if gone untreated. Saliva plays an important part in keeping your body healthy: its enzymes help break down food for digestion, its antimicrobial properties help reduce harmful bacteria and its buffering ability helps neutralize acid, both of which reduce the risk of tooth decay.

There can be many causes for dry mouth. One of the most common are side effects from medications, both prescription and over-the-counter. There are three main types of causes of dry mouth: antihistamines (used to treat allergies), diuretics (prescribed to cardiac patients to drain excess fluid), and antidepressants. Diseases including diabetes, Parkinson's disease and AIDS can also cause dry mouth, as well as some treatments such as head or neck radiation or chemotherapy.

If you noticed you've had dry mouth over the course of several days, it's a good idea to make an appointment with your dentist. He/She can determine the cause and recommend treatment such as changes in habit or prescribed medications. If dry mouth becomes severe, he/she can also prescribe medication to stimulate saliva flow.