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Q: Why does my mouth feel as dry as cotton?

Posted April 17, 2013 in Advice Column, Winterset

A: If you are experiencing extreme dryness of the mouth then you could have dry mouth (also known as xerostomia). Dry mouth can make it difficult for you to swallow, chew food or articulate your words clearly. It can also cause dry lips and throat or mouth sores. Untreated dry mouth can contribute to bad breath (halitosis) and tooth decay.

Dry mouth can be a sign of other conditions that you may not be aware of. These may include depression, high blood pressure, alcoholic cirrhosis, salivary gland disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, Addison’s disease, HIV/AIDS, diabetes and Sjogren’s syndrome. More than 500 medications can affect your oral health.

Comfort/care tips:
• Keep water on hand and sip frequently throughout the day.
• Only drink sugarless drinks.
• Avoid overuse of caffeinated drinks.
• Chew sugarless gum or gum that contains Xylitol.
• Avoid alcohol and tobacco products.
• Use an alcohol-free mouthwash, and check with your dentist to see if he or she recommends a prescription mouthwash.
• Use a humidifier at night.
• Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss.
• Visit with your dentist to create a comprehensive plan.

There are medications and products available to treat dry mouth. If you are experiencing any signs or symptoms, be sure to discuss this with your physician and dentist.

Information provided by Dr. Christopher W. Blanchard, Blanchard Family Dentistry, 820 West Summit St., 462-4474

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