What Is Dry Mouth and How Is It Treated?

What Is Dry Mouth and How Is It Treated?

Mar 02, 2021

Dry mouth, called xerostomia, is a condition in which the oral salivary glands reduce function, producing less saliva for the mouth. The purpose of saliva is to moisten your mouth to keep your oral tissues healthy, but it also helps with functions such as chewing and swallowing food and even with speech. 

Causes of Dry Mouth 

Aging 

– The risk of experiencing dry mouth increases with age

Smoking 

– Cigarettes, as well as other tobacco products such as chewing tobacco, contribute to a dry mouth 

Certain medications 

– A wide variety of medications can cause a dry mouth. These medications include antihistamines, diuretics, medications for high blood pressure and cholesterol and medications for anxiety and depression 

Certain medical conditions 

– Such as diabetes, cystic fibrosis, anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, Parkinson’s disease and Sjogren’s syndrome 

Side effect of cancer treatment 

– Radiation to the head and neck during cancer treatment can cause damage (either temporary or permanent) to the salivary glands, reducing salivary flow

Dehydration 

– The body requires fluid to function properly. Dehydration can lead to reduced salivary flow, causing a dry mouth 

some medications cause dry mouth

Implications of Dry Mouth 

Dry mouth is uncomfortable and difficult to live with, but it can also lead to gum disease and tooth decay if not properly treated. 

Dry Mouth Signs & Symptoms 

  • Sticky, uncomfortable feeling in the mouth 
  • Increased thirst 
  • Decreased sense of taste 
  • Difficulty chewing and swallowing 
  • Dry, sore throat 
  • Cracked lips and tongue 
  • Tingling sensation on the tongue 
  • Bad breath, called halitosis 

Treatment for Dry Mouth 

The treatment for dry mouth depends on the cause of the dry mouth. If you are experiencing a dry mouth, it is important to talk with your doctor or dentist about the right treatment for you. Some ways to improve a dry mouth are: 

  • Reducing smoking and use of tobacco products 
  • Staying hydrated 
  • Adjusting medications that are causing dry mouth (talk with your doctor)
  • Using a salivary substitute product or medication that encourages the production of saliva 
  • Regular dental check-ups and cleanings 

It is important to address a dry mouth as soon as symptoms begin, as leaving it can lead to reduced oral health. Contact us today to book an appointment if you are experiencing dry mouth.

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