Causes, Treatment And Remedies For Dry Mouth

October 1, 2018

What happens when you don’t have enough saliva?
Dry mouth is that uncomfortable feeling you get when you don’t produce enough saliva to meet your needs. When your mouth doesn’t produce enough saliva, you may find yourself with more than just thirst.

By salivating, your mouth helps you taste and digest what you’re eating and drinking. Food particles are washed away from your teeth, as well as acids, which helps prevent tooth decay (cavities).

In this series, learn about some of the many causes of dry mouth (also known as xerostomia), as well as its symptoms, treatments, and remedies. This knowledge may be vital to the continued health of your teeth and mouth.

What does it feel like to have a dry mouth?
Dry mouth is unpleasant and uncomfortable, but some forms of discomfort are surprising. Did you know that a lack of saliva can make your tongue burn? This is a condition known as burning tongue syndrome, and it’s just one of the alarming symptoms of dry mouth.

When your mouth is dry, you may notice that your mouth feels sticky. It may become difficult to eat and swallow. Your throat may also become dry, making choking more common.

In addition to all the other discomforts, dry mouth may cause your lips to crack, it may make your tongue rough and dry, and it may cause sores to form on and in your mouth.

Coupled with all the other possible problems, you may find it difficult to speak without the necessary saliva to keep your tongue lubricated.

Unpleasant side effects
Bad breath, sometimes called halitosis, may be another consequence of dry mouth. This is because food particles aren’t rinsed off as often as they should be.

When applying lipstick, you may notice your makeup sticking to your teeth because there’s nothing to rinse it off. A hoarse or itchy throat may be another consequence.

Drugs can cause dry mouth.
It was once believed that bad breath was a result of aging. Doctors now know that the medications that many older people regularly take may be the real culprit. Some of the more than 400 medications that can cause dry mouth include

Blood pressure medications.
Asthma medications, and
Muscle relaxants.
In addition to prescription medications, many over-the-counter medications, such as decongestants, can also cause dry mouth. These include medications that treat allergy and cold symptoms.

Medications aren’t the only health-related cause of dry mouth. Sometimes, treatments for other conditions can also bring on dry mouth. Radiation therapy for oral cancer can damage the salivary glands in the process of attacking cancer cells. Another cancer treatment, chemotherapy, thickens your saliva, causing your mouth to feel drier than usual.

Head and neck injuries
Sometimes, ectasia can be traced back to nerve injuries in the head or neck. When you injure yourself in these areas, the injury may affect the health of your nerves. Some of these nerves are responsible for passing messages between your brain and salivary glands. If these nerves are damaged, your glands may not know when to produce saliva.

Sj?gren’s syndrome and other medical causes
Sometimes, the disease can lead to lacrimation. A health condition called Sj?gren’s (SHOW-grens) syndrome causes white blood cells to attack the lacrimal and salivary glands. This can dry out the eyes and mouth. It is estimated to affect between 400,000 and 3.1 million adults. Older women are particularly susceptible.

With Sj?gren’s syndrome, patients stay healthy otherwise, but may find that their mouths are dry and may also experience swollen glands around the face and neck, irritation, a rough feeling in the eyes and dryness of the nose, throat and vagina. Acid reflux may also accompany this inflammatory disease.

People with diabetes may also experience dry mouth when their blood sugar levels are too high. This may be the result of diabetes medications. People with AIDS sometimes have a dry mouth as well.

Another reason to quit smoking
A dry mouth may not be the most devastating effect of smoking. But wouldn’t it be nice to get rid of it? Smoking alone does not cause dry mouth, but smoking, cigars, pipes, or other tobacco products – even smokeless tobacco products – can exacerbate the condition.

The doctor can prescribe the right medicine.
If you suffer from bad breath, both medical and dental health professionals can be useful allies. If the cause is not prescription medication, a doctor’s examination may reveal undiagnosed medical conditions that interfere with your oral health, such as diabetes or Sj?gren’s syndrome.

However, caring for your mouth starts at home. Follow your dentist’s usual recommendations for brushing and flossing daily. Always rinse your mouth when you can’t brush your teeth after meals. Just drinking water throughout the day can improve dental health, as can using a non-alcoholic, antiseptic mouthwash daily.

Some tips to promote saliva production
A healthy mouth produces about three pints of saliva every day. That’s because saliva is vital to many things that happen in the mouth, from neutralizing acidic foods that can harm your teeth to adding moisture to food and helping to prevent choking. Here are some tips for nourishing your mouth.

Start with your doctor and ask if there are any medications that can help you.
Try sucking on or chewing sugar-free gum or throat lozenges. Lemon is a particularly effective flavor for stimulating saliva production, as is any sour food.
Ask your pharmacist for advice on over-the-counter treatments that may help relieve symptoms.

Want to fight dry mouth? Drink lots of water.
It may seem obvious, but try to remember to drink more water throughout the day to combat the worst symptoms of bad breath. Here are some more tips.

Drink water or milk at mealtimes to ease chewing and swallowing.
Use a humidifier in the room where you sleep. Sometimes, the symptoms of bad breath get better in the morning.
Avoid drinks that contain caffeine or lots of sugar and acid.
Make sure you visit your dentist regularly for cleanings and dental checkups.