What Causes Dry Mouth?

Dr. David Ellsworth and his staff at Harbor Pointe Dental of Petoskey treat patients of all ages for a wide range of oral health problems. With some conditions, such as dry mouth (xerostomia), the team at Harbor Pointe Dental of Petoskey may need to look beyond the mouth to determine the root cause of the problem.

Dry mouth is characterized by an insufficient flow of saliva, which is necessary for oral and digestive health. Saliva helps neutralize acids that harm tooth enamel, kills oral bacteria, and aids in chewing and swallowing. Xerostomia can strike anyone at any age, but it often develops in older people because of their declining health.

Medical conditions that can impair the functioning of the salivary glands include cancer, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and Sjogren’s syndrome. Chemotherapy or radiation treatments can also cause dry mouth, as can previous nerve damage to the head or neck. There are also hundreds of prescription and over-the-counter medicines that can dry out the mouth. Using tobacco or street drugs, especially methamphetamines, can additionally lead to xerostomia.

A qualified general dentist can treat the tooth decay and periodontal disease caused by dry mouth and make suggestions for stimulating saliva flow, but the patient may need to undergo medical treatment by a physician or alter his or her medication regimen to address the underlying cause.


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Located on West Jefferson Street in Petoskey, Michigan, Harbor Pointe Dental of Petoskey has a commitment to outstanding, highly skilled, anxiety-free dentistry. Founded in 2007, the company strives to provide patients with a relaxed, enjoyable dental experience by employing state-of-the-art equipment, the client’s choice of music, video goggles, safe and sterile procedures, and a friendly and professional team dedicated to delivering the highest level of care. Harbor Pointe Dental of Petoskey offers restorative services such as root canal therapy, tooth extractions, cosmetic fillings, scaling and root planing, and crowns and bridges, as well as cosmetic procedures including whitening, contouring, dental implants, and SmartMove tooth alignment. The practice uses digital X-ray machines, which provide patients with clearer images and minimized radiation exposure. The company focuses on patient education and makes sure that all individuals receive treatment that is tailored just for them. Harbor Pointe Dental is operated by David Ellsworth, a graduate of the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, where he earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery in April 2003. Dr. Ellsworth understands the importance of giving back, having experienced the benefits of volunteering directly, and he makes community service a priority. Dr. Ellsworth donates his time to Give Kids a Smile Day, the Migrant Dental Program, and the Donated Dental Services program, as well as making special visits to local schools to provide preventive education to students regarding dental health. Dr. Ellsworth is a practitioner of conscious sedation, an anti-anxiety method that provides comfortable, painless, and stress-free care to patients who dislike visiting the dentist or who have had bad experiences previously. He is also a member of DOCS Education (formerly the Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation). Pricing and insurance information for Harbor Pointe Dental can be found on the company website, along with driving directions and a number of educational resources. Appointments may be arranged online at any time at HarborPointeDental.com.

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