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Dry mouth can affect your oral health

Published On: Jan 31 2013 01:24:50 PM CST
Updated On: May 07 2013 02:47:43 PM CDT
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(NewsUSA) - We all have dealt with dry mouth at one time or another. For some, however, it's more than just a casual occurrence.

What exactly is dry mouth? Basically, it is when your mouth feels parched. If you suffer from dry mouth symptoms, you naturally have less oxygen-rich saliva in your mouth, which creates an anaerobic (oxygen-free) environment -- the perfect environment for bacteria that cause bad breath.

Are bad breath and dry mouth signs that some other health condition is present? Possibly. It's true that serious cases of dry mouth have been linked to health problems such as diabetes, Sjogren's syndrome and hypertension -- just to name a few. However, even if your dry mouth isn't being caused by a more serious health condition, ignoring it can lead to more health problems down the road.

"No one likes having bad breath, but dry mouth can also increase your risk of gum disease, tooth decay and mouth infections. In fact, it can even damage your throat," says Dr. Harold Katz, a dentist, bacteriologist and creator of TheraBreath premium oral care products from Beverly Hills, Calif. "Medications, smoking, health conditions and dehydration can cause it."

Over 75 percent of prescribed medications list dry mouth as a side effect. Plus, mouthwashes with alcohol will only exacerbate the problem. If you have dry mouth, here are some solutions that can help fix it:

* Stop using products with sodium lauryl sulfate. Sodium lauryl sulfate can dry out your mouth, which feeds bacteria, creates bad breath and induces bitter and sour tastes.

* Avoid drinking citrus juices. Acidic drinks, like orange, grapefruit and tomato juice can compound dry mouth.

* Drink more water. Getting enough water will keep your mouth moist, especially if you're ingesting things like coffee or orange juice. High levels of oxygen in your saliva balance acids and deter sulfur-producing bacteria.

* Use mouth-wetting lozenges.

If your dry mouth remains an issue, talk to your doctor. Be sure to find out if the medication you take is known to give patients dry mouth.