Why do your dentures hurt? There are many potential causes of denture pain, but one of the most common is dry mouth.
As common as it is for some people to salivate excessively with dentures, it’s even more common for people to have the opposite experience: they have dry mouth (technically known as xerostomia). This isn’t usually caused by dentures, but it can have serious consequences for denture wearers. Saliva isn’t just water in your mouth, it’s a complex organic blend that lubricates your mouth and helps fight off bacteria.
Without it, your dentures can chafe, causing uncomfortable sores, and you are at an elevated risk of gum disease. The good news is, though, there are many ways to treat dry mouth to make your dentures more comfortable to wear.
Identify the Cause of Dry Mouth
You can’t know how best to treat dry mouth unless you know what’s causing it. Here are some of the more common causes of dry mouth that you should consider:
Radiation therapy is the easiest to consider and discard. Either you’ve gotten radiation treatment or you haven’t. Dehydration can be tested just by increasing your fluid intake. Xerostomia is one of the more common side effects of medication, so if you’re taking one or more prescriptions, you should look at the labels or talk to your doctor to learn whether your medication might be responsible. Illnesses that can cause dry mouth include Sjögren’s syndrome, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Do Dentures Make Your Mouth Dry?
As a general rule, dentures are not the primary cause of dry mouth. However, they can make dry mouth worse. They may prevent stimulation of salivary glands or cause you to hold your mouth open, drying your mouth out.
People often associate dentures with dry mouth because the two may coincide. Saliva glands produce less saliva as we get older, so that people place the blame on dentures, even if they aren’t actually the cause. Dentures also get blamed because dentures make people aware of how dry their mouth is. Dry mouth that was just a minor nuisance with teeth becomes a serious issue with dentures that can be painful in people with dry mouth.
Managing Dry Mouth
It’s always best to try just drinking more fluids to see if that helps your dry mouth. If it doesn’t and you think medications might be responsible for your dry mouth, talk to your doctor about alternative prescriptions.
Saliva substitutes are another option. They work a little better than water for keeping your dentures lubricated. You can also try sialagogues–saliva production stimulants. These can be as simple as a hard candy–preferably sugar-free–that you suck on. You could also use gum, but it’s hard to chew with dentures. More advanced sialagogues include prescription medications.
And if you suspect that your dentures are part of the problem, replacement dentures can help you overcome your dry mouth. Denture fit becomes critical when you don’t have enough saliva to lubricate between dentures and your gums.
The best solution for you may be a combination of multiple approaches.