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Children can suffer from chronic dry mouth just like adults. Unfortunately, it often goes unnoticed because children often don't know that their mouth is dry — if they've suffered from a dry mouth for a while, they may not have any frame of reference for what normal saliva production feels like. Poor saliva production can cause oral health issues, as saliva is a defensive system that helps fight plaque-causing bacteria in the mouth.
Since ample saliva production is important for maintaining oral health, it's important to be on the lookout for any symptoms of chronic dry mouth in your child and seek treatment if you notice them. Read on to learn some ways that you can tell if your child has a dry mouth, what causes it and how you can treat it.
How Do You Tell If Your Child Suffers From a Dry Mouth?
If your child has a dry mouth, they may constantly ask for water or another drink, especially when they're eating. It's difficult to swallow food when you have a dry mouth, and adding some extra lubrication by drinking liquids while you're eating is a way that your child can make eating easier for them.
If your child has cracked lips or an irritated tongue, they may also be suffering from chronic dry mouth. Without saliva to provide moisture, your child's lips and tongue are more susceptible to cracking and causing them pain. An irritated, painful tongue can cause your child to have difficulty speaking if they're just learning to talk — it's difficult to make all of the necessary tongue movements for speech when it's painful.
What Causes Children to Have a Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth in children is often linked to allergies. When a child has a stuffy nose and is badly congested, they're more likely to breathe through their mouth instead of breathing normally through their nose. Mouth breathing will quickly dry out the saliva, resulting in a chronic dry mouth.
Another way that allergies can cause dry mouth happens when your child takes medication to combat the allergies. Allergy medication and decongestants are anticholinergics, and dry mouth is one of the side effects of this type of medication. Taking medication all throughout the allergy season can result in your child having a persistent dry mouth the whole time.
Apart from allergies, there are a few other ways that children can develop chronic dry mouth. If your child sleeps with their mouth open, they'll wake up with a dry mouth. Chronic dehydration can also cause dry mouth, and a few medical conditions can also lead to chronic dry mouth such as type 1 diabetes.
How Do You Treat Persistent Dry Mouth in Children?
The first step in treating dry mouth in children is to make sure your child drinks plenty of water in order to prevent dehydration. Your child should stay away from caffeinated beverages like soda since they can worsen dry mouth. When your child is dealing with chronic dry mouth, water is the best liquid to drink.
Chewing sugar-free gum is another way that your child can help alleviate their dry mouth. One of the functions of saliva is that it helps break down food, so your body will start releasing saliva whenever you're chewing in order to aid in digestion. Chewing sugar-free gum is a good way to boost saliva production without harming your child's dental health.
For cases of dry mouth that aren't adequately treated by boosting water intake and chewing sugar-free gum, you can schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist. A pediatric dentist can prescribe your child an oral rinse that's specifically designed for people who suffer from chronic dry mouth. These oral rinses act like an artificial form of saliva, which helps reduce the irritation and pain your child experiences as a result of chronic dry mouth.
If you think that your child suffers from a persistent dry mouth, it's important to treat it as soon as you can. Without adequate saliva production, your child is more at risk for developing cavities and other oral health problems — there's not enough saliva available to fight off disease-causing bacteria. Schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentistry service to find out the cause of your child's dry mouth. At your appointment, you'll be able to discuss possible treatment options like an oral rinse that can help protect your child's teeth from bacteria and prevent irritation.