Dr. Gregory J. Snevel


Read more about Gregory J. Snevel

35010 Chardon Rd. Suite 201
Willoughby Hills, OH 44094
Find us

Find helpful information in our digital library.

Posts for: October, 2011

By contactus
October 16, 2011
Category: Uncategorized
Tags: Untagged


The Dangers of Dry Mouth


Almost everyone has experienced a dry mouth at some time in his or her life.  Unfortunately for some, dry mouth is a chronic condition that can severely affect a person’s quality of life.   But what exactly is dry mouth?  What are some of the factors that cause it?  Why is it so dangerous for your teeth? How can it be effectively managed?  These are some of the questions that I would like to address in this issue of The Tooth Tribune.



What is Dry Mouth?

Dry mouth, or Xerostomia, is a condition defined as insufficient salivary flow in the mouth.  In most cases, salivary flow is diminished or behaves inconsistently. In the most extreme cases, salivary flow can cease all together.  Patients who suffer from dry mouth experience symptoms such as: thick and frothy saliva, altered or a metallic taste in their mouth, bad breath, cracking and chapping of the lips and corners of the mouth, difficulty swallowing or chewing food, difficulty speaking, and many other problems.   


What Causes Dry Mouth?

Dry mouth can be caused by a number of factors.  Stress and anxiety are the most common causes of temporary dry mouth. Many medications, both prescription and over the counter, list dry mouth as a potential side effect of use.  Some of the most notable medications that cause dry mouth are: anti-histamines, decongestants, painkillers, medication to control blood pressure, and anti-depressants.  Patients who take multiple medications for various conditions are also at risk.  Less common cause of dry mouth include smoking, radiation treatment for certain types of cancer, and various other salivary gland conditions. 


So What, I have a Dry Mouth….

Dry mouth is a serious condition and should not be taken lightly.  Saliva not only aids in speaking and swallowing, but also: contains proteins that help limit the amount of bacteria in the mouth, fight tooth decay, periodontal (gum) disease and bad breath.  Throughout your day saliva rinses and cleanses your mouth removing food particles from around and between your teeth.  This functions to prevent the accumulation of bacteria on your teeth, a leading cause of tooth decay.  Therefore, if you do not have adequate saliva your teeth and gums are at risk.


Managing Dry Mouth

Dry mouth can be managed a number of ways, but before you decide to take action you should first consult your dentist and physician to inform them that you are experiencing this condition.  Drinking water throughout the day, or chewing sugar free gum can help stimulate the production of saliva and help with many of the problems associated with dry mouth.  IMPORTANT: the chewing gum needs to contain the ingredient Xylitol, or at the very least be sugar-free.  Water should not contain any additives or flavoring containing sugar. 

Often times, patients drink soda, or eat candy throughout the day in an effort to stem dry mouth.  This is like throwing gasoline on a fire.  By introducing extra sugar into a mouth that is already compromised, you are encouraging more opportunities for tooth decay to become a problem.  For patients who have difficulty finding relief, it may be necessary to consult your physician to change some of the medications you may be on, or to see your dentist; there are prescription options to help with salivary flow.


IMPORTANT NOTE: you should never discontinue or change medications you are currently taking, without first consulting your doctor.


Final Thoughts

Dry Mouth is a common occurrence, and as the population ages, its projected occurrence rate will increase as well.  With proper care and prevention, you can avoid many of the problems associated with dry mouth.  If you would like more information, or are interested in treating your dry mouth feel free to give our office a call and schedule a consultation. 







Dr. Gregory J. Snevel D.D.S. 

Questions or Comments?
We encourage you to contact us whenever you have an interest or concern about our services.