Saliva is more necessary to our bodies than we might realize. Saliva is a natural way to cleanse our mouths and also serves as a means to digest our food. It also controls the bacteria in our mouths.
Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is caused when your mouth doesn’t make enough saliva to keep your mouth moist and healthy.
Causes of dry mouth
To understand dry mouth, we have to first explore what causes the uncomfortable feeling. Causes of dry mouth include:
- Side effect of some medications. Many prescription and nonprescription drugs; such as those to treat depression, anxiety, chronic pain, allergies, obesity, acne, epilepsy, nausea, diarrhea, asthma, and Parkinson’s disease, can cause dry mouth. Some muscle relaxers have also been known to cause dry mouth.
- Side effect of some diseases and infections. Dry mouth is a side effect of some medical conditions, like HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, anemia, cystic fibrosis, arthritis, hypertension, Sjogren’s syndrome, and Parkinson’s disease.
- Side effect of some medical treatments. Damage to the salivary gland can be caused by some medical treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation.
- Nerve damage. Nerve damage to the head and neck as a result of an accident or surgery could also cause dry mouth.
- People can be dehydrated for a number of reasons, like fever, sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, blood loss, and burns.
- Surgical removal of the salivary glands.
- Lifestyle choices such as smoking or chewing tobacco can affect your saliva production and cause dry mouth. Nasal congestion can lead to dry mouth as well, or any situation in which you tend to breathe with your mouth open.
Symptoms of dry mouth
If you’re not sure if you have dry mouth, you can refer to this list of symptoms. Common symptoms include:
- Sticky, dry feeling in the mouth
- Frequent, unquenchable thirst
- Sores or split skin in the mouth as well as cracked lips
- Dry feeling in the throat
- Burning or tingling in the mouth and specifically the tongue
- A dry, red, and raw tongue
- Problems speaking and trouble tasting, chewing, and swallowing
- Hoarseness, dry nasal passages, and sore throat
- Bad breath
Why is dry mouth bad?
Aside from the many symptoms listed above, dry mouth can leave you susceptible to oral infections and diseases. Gum disease and tooth decay are a frequent cause of dry mouth, but it can sometimes even lead to infections such as thrush. If you need to wear dentures, dry mouth can also make it difficult.
Treatment of dry mouth
If your dry mouth might be caused by medication, you can consult with your doctor about switching or lowering your dosage. Doing so might solve your dry mouth problem.
There are also oral rinses and medications that can help boost saliva production, such as a prescription called Salagen.
Aside from medications or over-the-counter treatments, there are other steps that can be taken to help improve your saliva flow.
- Suck on candy or chew gum, which stimulates the flow of saliva
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
- Introduce fluoride into your tooth care regimen by using a toothpaste with fluoride or a fluoride rinse
- Avoid breathing through your mouth
- Add moisture to your bedroom by using a vaporizer
- Use an over-the-counter artificial saliva substitute