Dry Mouth: What Are the Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options?
Saliva in your mouth improves your ability to taste, chew, and swallow. Enzymes in saliva aid in digestion. Saliva also neutralizes acids in the mouth and restricts bacterial growth. This decreases the chances of tooth decay. Dry mouth happens when your salivary glands do not produce enough saliva to retain the wetness of your mouth. This condition can often interfere with your appetite, sense of taste, and the health of your gums and teeth.
Causes of Dry Mouth
Some common causes of dry mouth include:
1. Side effect of certain medications
Often, dry mouth can be a side effect of many prescription and nonprescription drugs, which are used to treat a wide range of diseases. Examples of such conditions are depression, anxiety, allergies, pain, acne, epilepsy, urinary incontinence, nausea, diarrhea, psychotic disorders, etc. Apart from these, antihistamines and decongestants used to treat common cold, diuretics used to treat hypertension, and certain bronchodilators used to treat asthma can also cause dry mouth.
2. Side effect of certain diseases and infection
Certain diseases like Sjögren's syndrome, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, cystic fibrosis, hypertension, stroke, and mumps can cause dry mouth.
3. After effect of certain medical treatments
Specific medical treatments like, chemotherapy and radiation to the neck and head region can also cause damage to the salivary glands and hence reduce the saliva production.
4. Nerve damage
Nerve damage to the head and neck region from a surgery or an injury can cause dry mouth.
Conditions that result in dehydration, such as excessive sweating, fever, vomiting, blood loss, diarrhea, and burns.
6. Surgical removal of the salivary glands
If your salivary glands are removed because of a tumor, or a chronic infection, it will affect the saliva production.
Chewing tobacco, smoking, and breathing with your mouth can also decrease your saliva production and contribute to the problem.
Symptoms of Dry Mouth
- A sticky, dry sensation in the mouth
- Mouth sores
- Cracked lips
- Frequent thirst
- Bad breath
- A dry feeling in the throat
- A burning or prickling sensation in the mouth and on the tongue
- A red, dry, raw tongue
- Trouble with tasting, speaking, chewing, and swallowing
- Hoarseness, sore throat, and dry nasal passages
What is dry mouth a sign of?
Dry mouth can be a sign of various health conditions, such as thrush or yeast infection in your mouth, diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, or certain autoimmune diseases, such as HIV/AIDS or Sjogren's syndrome.
Related Article: Burning Mouth Syndrome: Everything You Should Know
How do you get rid of dry mouth?
To get rid of dry mouth first, you should diagnose its cause. For example, if your dry mouth is caused as a side effect of certain medication, you may need to adjust its dose or switch to another medication that doesn't cause dry mouth after consulting your doctor.
Here are some other steps, which you can try to get rid of dry mouth.
- Use sugar-free candies or gums with xylitol.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Use a fluoride mouth rinse and brush with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Avoid breathing through your mouth.
- Try using a room vaporizer to increase moisture in your bedroom air.
- Use prescribed oral rinses to restore the moisture in your mouth
- Use medications that boost saliva production
- Use an over-the-counter artificial saliva substitute.
- Visit your dentist regularly.
Fluoride Treatment for Dry Mouth
Fluoride is commonly found in water and certain foods. Fluoride is a natural mineral that prevents dental cavities and strengthens your teeth. Applying topical fluoride is beneficial in the treatment of dry mouth. Topical fluoride can be introduced through mouth rinse, toothpaste, or applied directly by your dentist.
Usually, fluoride treatments have much more fluoride than what’s in your toothpaste or water. Applying it takes only a few minutes, and you may need to avoid drinking and eating for around 30 minutes after the treatment so that your teeth can fully absorb the applied fluoride. If you are considering topical fluoride treatment for your dry mouth, make sure to visit our Milton dentists or Shoreline dentists today.
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