Xerostomia, commonly known as dry mouth, is caused due to lack of saliva in the mouth. This condition can make it difficult for your mouth to perform its regular functions such as eating and talking. If left unattended, this condition can lead to halitosis (bad breath).
Without saliva to lubricate the mouth, wash away food particles, balance the acidity of the mouth, and remineralize the teeth, cavities and other infections can easily form. Seniors are particularly susceptible to dry mouth because they often take multiple medications to control diseases they have developed throughout their lifetime. Seniors are also more likely to have teeth with exposed roots that lack protective enamel. The combination of exposed root surfaces and dry mouth increases the likelihood of cavities forming.
Medication isn’t the only cause of dry mouth. It could be a symptom of another disease or result of some laser therapy that you might be undergoing.
Causes of Dry Mouth
Dry mouth can be a sign of an underlying problem. If you have a persistent dry mouth, be sure to consult your dentist so they can find the exact cause of dry mouth in your case. Here are some common causes of this condition.
Medication is the most common cause. Over 400 common prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs are known to cause dry mouth.
Your dry mouth could be a result of medication for any of the following conditions.
- Psychotic disorders
- Urinary incontinence
- Parkinson’s disease
Dry mouth may be a sign of an underlying disease such as diabetes or Sjögren’s syndrome, a disorder in which immune cells attack and destroy the tear and saliva glands. Parkinson’s disease also commonly causes dry mouth.
Other known medical conditions that could cause dry mouth are hyperventilation, anxiety, and depression, HIV, hypertension, mumps, stroke, and cystic fibrosis.
Radiation and Chemotherapy
Individuals who undergo radiation or chemotherapy for head and neck cancers experience xerostomia. The salivary glands can be permanently damaged, and saliva can be reduced, and its consistency changed.
Dry mouth is a common symptom of substance abuse as many drugs reduces saliva production. People who have developed a marijuana dependence suffer from a consistent dry mouth. Similarly, people who chew or smoke tobacco can often develop dry mouth and suffer from bad breath.
Abusers tend to have a higher incidence of cavities and gum disease and often develop “meth mouth.”
Dehydration is a common cause of dry mouth. It’s a sign that your body doesn’t have enough liquids to function normally.
There could be a number of underlying causes that result in dehydration such as fever, blood loss, burns, diarrhea, vomiting and so on. If you are sweating excessively and not drinking a lot of water to compensate for it, you could easily develop dehydration and a dry mouth as a consequence.
Dehydration is a serious condition, and you should visit your doctor as soon as possible to find the underlying cause.
Dry mouth could be due to some nerve damage in the head and the neck area. It could be a result of an injury or surgery. If your salivary glands are removed in surgery, you will definitely have dry mouth.
Common symptoms of dry mouth
You could easily tell when you have dry mouth. You will have a sticky and dry feeling, and you will feel thirsty. Your mouth could feel sore, or you could develop cracked lips.
Dry mouth could also give you a burning and tingling sensation in the mouth, and your tongue could turn somewhat reddish with clear dry spots on it.
One of the most common symptoms of dry mouth is that your mouth can’t perform its routine functions properly. These include speaking, chewing, swallowing and tasting.
Bad breath is also a common symptom of dry mouth.
Solutions – How to get rid of dry mouth?
Although there is no cure for xerostomia, there are steps you can take to help manage this condition.
- Drink plenty of water and sugar-free beverages.
- Chew sugar-free gum containing xylitol; gum stimulates saliva production, and xylitol helps protect teeth against cavities.
- Avoid tobacco, caffeine, and alcohol.
- If you use mouthwash, be sure it is alcohol-free.
- Use a lubricating mouthwash and saliva replacement gel to help lubricate your mouth. Common brands such as Biotene and Oasis are available at drug stores.
- Talk to your physician about changing your medications to ones that do not cause dry mouth.
Finally, be sure to visit your dentist regularly so he or she can provide protective fluoride treatments and other care essential to keeping your teeth and mouth healthy.
For Any Dental Emergency: Call Immediately 866-989-1335
Our Emergency Dentist are ready to serve you
Our emergency dentist are available 7 days a week including weekends and holidays.“We’re always here for you!”