On average, a person could not survive more than five days without water. As the weather outside gets warmer, your need for water increases. Water keeps you energized, healthy, and strong. In honor of Drinking Water Week (May 6-12), Dr. Pate wants to make sure you’re drinking enough water to keep your body and mouth hydrated this summer.
The human body is made up of 55-75% water. Your body loses water through sweating, urination, and exhaling. When you don’t replace the water your body is losing, you may become dehydrated. Dehydration can cause muscle weakness, cramping, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and other body weaknesses. However, dehydration affects your mouth, too. A lack of moisture in your mouth can lead to dry mouth and dry lips.
Taste is the weakest of your five senses, but it’s responsible for the different flavors you experience when you eat. In general, girls have more taste buds than boys. Taste buds are tiny nerve endings that send messages to your brain to help you sense a taste. How much do you know about your taste buds? Test your knowledge and visit Dr. Pate to make sure the taste in your mouth is healthy.
1. What are the bumps on your tongue called?
2. What are the five main tastes?
a. Sugar, fruity, sour, spicy, creamy
b. Sweet, salty, sour, bitter, umami
c. Dairy, bread, meat, dessert, beverage
Dry mouth is that dry, cottony feeling you get when your salivary glands don’t produce properly. Saliva is important to digestion and lubrication of oral structures. It also contains enzymes, electrolytes, anti-bacterial compounds, and mucus. Without the proper amount of saliva, you might experience bad breath, tooth decay, gum disease, trouble eating and talking, and general discomfort in your mouth.
Often, people with dry mouth feel excessively thirsty, their saliva seems thick, and their mouths feel sticky. Dry mouth can contribute to a hoarse voice, scratchy or burning tongue, chapped lips, thrush (oral yeast infection), mouth sores, or dryness in the nose.
So what causes this irritating condition? Factors that may affect dry mouth include:
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Drinking too little liquid
- Drinking alcohol or caffeine
- Mouth breathing
- Anxiety and stress
- Using one of over 1,000 over-the-counter medications
- Taking 3 or more prescription drugs
- Medical Conditions: HIV/AIDS, anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, cystic fibrosis, Sjorgren’s Syndrome, diabetes, mumps, stroke, and others
- Radiation and chemotherapy
- Trauma to the mouth or throat
If you’re struggling with dry mouth, tell Dr. Pate at your next appointment. He’ll help you find the factors contributing to your condition, and then he can recommend ways to alleviate the problem.