Dry Mouth: A Guide to Causes, Symptoms, Risks & Treatments

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what causes dry mouth

A dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a condition where the salivary glands in your mouth don’t produce enough saliva to keep your mouth wet. production of saliva is essential to maintain oral health. The following are a few important functions of saliva:

  • It helps you chew, swallow, and neutralizes harmful acids. 
  • It also kills germs and protects your enamel and teeth from tooth decay and gum diseases. 
  • It also prevents bad breath and heals your wound quickly. 
  • It washes away food particles and ensures you achieve optimal oral health. 

If there’s a decrease in saliva, it can have a major impact on your general and oral health.

What Causes Dry Mouth?

A dry mouth occurs when the salivary glands in the mouth don’t produce enough saliva to keep your mouth wet. The following are a few reasons why your salivary glands will not work.

  • Medications

Most times, certain medications can cause dry mouth as a side effect. The most common types of medication that can cause dry mouth are the ones used to treat depression, blood pressure, muscle relaxants, and pain medications.

  • Aging

Over time, as people, age may experience dry mouth due to medications, inadequate nutrition, and long-term health issues.

  • Radiation

A dry mouth is a common side effect of radiation therapy when you receive it near the head or neck. Radiation damages the salivary glands, which reduces the secretion of saliva. Radiation treatments to your head and neck can damage the salivary glands, which reduces saliva production. The damage to your glands can be temporary or permanent, depending on the radiation dose.

  • Nerve Damage

If you face an injury or have undergone surgery that may cause nerve damage to your head and neck area can result in a dry mouth.

  • Health Conditions

A dry mouth can also occur due to certain health conditions like diabetes, stroke, yeast infection in your mouth, or Alzheimer’s disease. It can also occur due to autoimmune diseases like Sjogren’s syndrome or HIV/AIDS. If you snore or breathe with your mouth open, it can also contribute to a dry mouth.

  • Tobacco & Alcohol Consumption

If you consume alcohol, smoke, or chew tobacco, you are at a higher risk to face dry mouth symptoms. Consuming methamphetamines can also result in a dry mouth.

  • Dehydration

If you are dehydrated due to loss of fluid and don’t get replenished, it can cause dry mouth. This may occur in case of vomiting, diarrhea, excessive sweating, or blood loss. If you are dehydrated and your body doesn’t produce saliva like usual, it can cause your mouth to feel dry.

  • Stress & Anxiety

If you are stressed or anxious, your body produces cortisol. This can change the composition of your saliva, resulting in mouth dryness.

  • Diabetes

A dry mouth is a symptom of type 1 and types 2 diabetes, and increased blood sugar levels affect saliva production. If you have diabetes, you are more prone to dehydration and mouth dryness.

What Are The Symptoms Of Dry Mouth?

If you have a dry mouth and don’t produce enough saliva, you may notice some of the signs and symptoms mentioned below.

  • A sticky feeling or dryness in your mouth
  • Thick and stringy saliva
  • Bad breath
  • Trouble chewing, speaking, and swallowing
  • Dry or sore throat
  • Frequently thirsty
  • Dry, red, raw, or grooved tongue
  • Changes in the sense of taste
  • Difficulty in wearing dentures
  • Sores in the mouth or split skin at the corners of the mouth and cracked lips.
  • A tingling sensation or burning on the tongue.

If you face any of the above-mentioned symptoms, make sure you visit a good dentist who will provide a thorough dental cleaning and examination and ensure you get immediate relief. 

How Is Dry Mouth Treated?

Treatment for dry mouth depends on what causes the issue.

Saliva helps to digest food and helps you chew and swallow your food. Saliva also helps you maintain oral health by acting as a natural mouth cleanser, which prevents tooth decay and gum disease. Therefore, it is important to get rid of dry mouth by following a thorough oral hygiene routine. Following are a few suggestions 

  • Brush your teeth twice a day after meals and before bedtime.
  • Flossing your teeth every day
  • Using a toothpaste that contains fluoride
  • Visit your dentist for a checkup and cleaning at least twice a year.
  • You can also get a fluoride rinse or fluoride gel to keep your teeth healthy.
  • Talk to your doctor about managing other medical conditions
  • Increasing the flow of saliva with the help of an oral rinse to restore mouth moisture. 
  • You can also opt for toothpaste, mouthwashes, and moisturizing gels just for dry mouth.

However, before using any product, make sure you consult a good dentist who will ensure you select the best treatment for your condition. 

We hope this information helped you understand the causes and treatment for dry mouth. If you are suffering from dry mouth, make sure you visit a good dentist, who will provide you with dry mouth treatment and educate you on how to prevent it from occurring again.