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Everything You Need to Know About Dry Mouth and Kids

Posted on March 27th, 2024

MTorrance dentist, Dr. Bradley Miller of Miller Family Dental, discusses what causes children to develop dry mouth and what you can do about it.ost people experience dry mouth at some point. Usually a glass of water is enough to treat the parched feeling. But what causes the kind of dry mouth you can’t seem to quench? Further, what happens if your child is the one who constantly complains of a dry mouth? Should you be worried? Dry mouth does effect children, and parents should pay attention if their child is complaining of dry mouth symptoms. Here Miller Family Dental will go over the possible causes of dry mouth in kids, the risks of dry mouth and what parents can do to help their child.

What is dry mouth?

Dry mouth, called xerostomia, is typically a symptom of an underlying issue. Fundamentally, dry mouth is caused by a lack of saliva. There are many reasons someone’s saliva flow might be compromised.  Sometimes the issue is small, slight dehydration or a long-nights sleep. Other times it is an indication of a bigger problem like an autoimmune disorder. Dry mouth is uncomfortable and if left untreated can contribute to tooth decay in kids. If you suspect your child might be suffering from dry mouth, here are some key characteristics to look for:

  • Constantly asking for water
  • Sore, or scratchy throat
  • Dry nasal passages 
  • Coughing
  • Having a hard time swallowing food

What Causes Dry Mouth

One of the most common causes of dry mouth is medication use. According to the Surgeon General’s Report there are over 400 prescription and over the counter medications that can cause dry mouth. Everything from asthma medication to decongestants can contribute to your child having dry mouth. If you are unsure of a medication’s side effects, simply look online, on the packaging or call your doctor to find out. 

Temporary use of medication and the resulting dry mouth can be managed with hydrating and the eventual stopping of use. However, for chronic issues that require consistent medication use, parents should know the risks of chronic dry mouth.                            

Does dry mouth cause problems?

Saliva is the body’s natural defense system against decay-causing bacteria. It helps neutralize the oral pH and lubricate the tissues. When the saliva flow is low it can create the perfect environment for cavity-causing bacteria to thrive. 

What can we do about dry mouth in kids?

First, make sure you have any cavities filled that might be a result of dry mouth. Restoring teeth to function is important for the development of speech and the ability to eat nutritious foods. Then, there are several interventions that can help alleviate dry mouth suggested by the American Dental Association. They include:

  • Sipping on water
  • Sucking on ice chips
  • Sucking on sugar-free lozenges 
  • Chewing sugar-free gum
  • Using Chapstick if lips are dry
  • Avoid sugary foods
  • Using a humidifier during sleeping hours

The American Academy of Oral Medicine suggests using Xylitol products due to the cavity prevention properties. Xylitol is a sweetener that cannot be digested by cavity-causing bacteria. 

It’s also important to make sure your child is consistent with his or her oral hygiene routine. Brushing and flossing are even more important if your child has a dry mouth. 

When should I call Miller Family Dental?

If your child is suffering from dry mouth it is always a good idea to let Miller Family Dental know. Any changes in your child’s medications or health should be communicated to Miller Family DentalDr. Bradley Miller may ask you to bring your child in more regularly to make sure decay is caught in its earliest stages. 

Dry mouth is common and can usually be treated easily with increased hydration. For chronic dry mouth there are several interventions that can help alleviate the symptoms and provide your child comfort. The most important thing is to make sure you are staying regular with their dental check ups and Miller Family Dental is aware of the issue. For more information schedule an appointment with Miller Family Dental.

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