Everyone has a dry mouth once in a while — if they are nervous, upset, or under stress.
But if you have a dry mouth all or most of the time, it can be uncomfortable and can lead to serious health problems.
A dry mouth is rarely a sign of anything serious. There are things you can do to help ease it yourself. See a dentist if these don’t work or you also have other symptoms.
What is Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth is the condition of not having enough saliva, or spit, to keep your mouth wet.
Symptoms and Signs
- A sticky, dry feeling in the mouth
- Trouble chewing, swallowing, tasting, or speaking
- A burning feeling in the mouth
- A dry feeling in the throat
- Cracked lips
- Dry or grooved tongue
- A changed sense of taste
- Problems wearing dentures
- Mouth sores
- An infection in the mouth
- Bad breath
Dry mouth Risks
- Can increase your chance of developing dental decay and other infections in the mouth
- Can cause difficulties in tasting, chewing, swallowing, and speaking
- Can be a sign of certain diseases and conditions
- Can be caused by certain medications or medical treatments
- Dry mouth is not a normal part of aging. So if you think you have a dry mouth, see your dentist there are things you can do to get relief.
Causes of Dry mouth
Dry mouth is caused when the salivary glands in the mouth don’t make enough saliva to keep your mouth wet. These glands may not work properly as the result of:
Hundreds of medications, including many over-the-counter drugs, produce dry mouth as a side effect. Among the more likely types to cause problems are some of the drugs used to treat depression, high blood pressure, and anxiety, as well as some antihistamines, decongestants, muscle relaxants, and pain medications.
Many older people experience dry mouth as they age. Contributing factors include the use of certain medications, changes in the body’s ability to process medication, inadequate nutrition, and having long-term health problems.
- Cancer therapy.
Chemotherapy drugs can change the nature of saliva and the amount produced. This may be temporary, with normal salivary flow returning after treatment is completed. Radiation treatments to your head and neck can damage salivary glands, causing a marked decrease in saliva production. This may be temporary or permanent, depending on the radiation dose and the area treated.
- Nerve damage.
An injury or surgery that causes nerve damage to your head and neck area can result in dry mouth.
- Other health conditions.
Dry mouth can be due to certain health conditions, such as diabetes, stroke, yeast infection (thrush) in your mouth or Alzheimer’s disease, or due to autoimmune diseases, such as Sjogren’s syndrome or HIV/AIDS. Snoring and breathing with your mouth open also can contribute to dry mouth.
- Tobacco and alcohol use.
Drinking alcohol and smoking or chewing tobacco can increase dry mouth symptoms.
- Recreational drug use.
Methamphetamine use can cause severe dry mouth and damage to teeth, a condition also known as “meth mouth.
- Marijuana also can cause dry mouth.
How to help ease a dry mouth yourself
- drink plenty of water – take regular sips during the day and keep some water by your bed at night
- suck on ice cubes or ice lollies
- chew sugar-free gum
- suck on sugar-free sweets
- use lip balm if your lips are also dry
- brush your teeth twice a day and
- use alcohol-free mouthwash
- Get Your Vitamins
- Breathe Through Your Nose, Mouth-breathing can dry out your mouth. So to avoid making your oral condition worse, practice breathing through your nose.
- don’t drink lots of alcohol, caffeine (such as tea and coffee), or fizzy drinks
- don’t have acidic foods (like lemons), spicy, salty, or sugary
- don’t smoke
- don’t stop taking prescribed medicine without getting medical advice first – even if you think it might be causing your symptoms
you’re more likely to get tooth decay if you have a dry mouth
We love our patients and love to help them form a healthy dental life that will last them a lifetime. For more information call us today to answer all of your questions so get an appointment today.