We need saliva to moisten and cleanse our mouths and digest food. Aside from that, it also prevents infection by controlling bacteria and fungi in the mouth. Your mouth gets dry and uncomfortable when you don’t make enough saliva. Decreased saliva and dry mouth can range from being merely a nuisance to something which has a major impact on your general health and the health of your teeth and gums, and also your appetite and enjoyment of food.
A persistently dry mouth is thought to affect at least 1 person in 10, and one in 5 older people. Sometimes, a dry mouth can be a sign of more serious condition like diabetes or Parkinson’s disease. Learn more about dry mouth in this article.
What is it?
It is a condition where there is not enough saliva in your mouth. Dry mouth contributes to dental decay, gum disease, and infections, so you may need to take extra care of your oral health. It is also called xerostomia, refers to a condition in which the salivary glands in your mouth don’t make enough saliva to keep your mouth moist.
This condition is often due to the side effect of certain medications or aging issues or as a result of radiation therapy for cancer. Less often, dry mouth may be caused by a condition which directly affects the salivary glands.
Symptoms of Dry Mouth
You may notice these signs and symptoms all or most of the time. If your mouth is not producing enough saliva,
- Saliva which seems thick and stringy
- Bad breath
- Problems wearing dentures
- Dryness your mouth
- Dry or sore throat and hoarseness
- Dry or grooved tongue
- A changed sense of taste
- Difficulty chewing, speaking and swallowing
Causes of Dry Mouth
Dry mouth is caused when the salivary glands in the mouth don’t make enough saliva to keep your mouth properly hydrated. These glands may not work properly as a result of many different causes.
If you don’t keep your body properly hydrated by drinking enough water and staying away from too much soda and other drinks you can cause dry mouth.
Chemotherapy drugs have a large effect on this, it can change the nature of saliva and the amount produced. However, this may be temporary due to normal salivary flow returning after treatment is completed. Radiation treatments to your head and neck can damage your salivary glands, causing a marked decrease in saliva production. However, this may be temporary or permanent, depending on the dose of the radiation and the area treated.
There are hundreds of medications which produce dry mouth as a side effect. There are also 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.
Older people experience this condition as they age. There are also factors that contribute to this, which include the use of certain medications, changes in the body’s ability to process medication, inadequate nutrition, and having long-term health problems.
An injury or surgery which causes nerve damage to your head and neck area can also result in dry mouth.
Other Health Conditions
Dry mouth can also 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 contributes to dry mouth.
Recreational Drug Use
A condition known as “meth mouth” or Methamphetamine use can cause severe dry mouth and damage to teeth. Marijuana also causes dry mouth.
Tobacco and Alcohol Use
Drinking alcohol and smoking or chewing tobacco can increase the symptoms of dry mouth.
If you don’t have enough saliva and develop dry mouth, chances are you will also have these:
- Increased plaque
- Yeast infection in your mouth
- Tooth decay
- Gum disease
- cracked lips and sores at the corners of your mouth
- Mouth sores
- Poor nutrition due to chewing and swallowing
When to see a doctor?
People who experienced this warning signs should see a doctor right away. People with extensive tooth decay should also have a dental examination. And people with a dry mouth but no warning signs and who otherwise feel well may see their doctor within a week or so.
In short… when in doubt see a doctor…
Your doctor may prescribe an oral rinse to restore mouth moisture. However, you can also try these remedies at home:
- Suck on sugar-free candy or chew sugar-free gum
- Drink plenty of water to help keep moist in your mouth
- Brush with toothpaste which contains fluoride. Use rinse with, and visit your dentist regularly
- Breathe through your nose as much as possible.
- Use a room vaporizer so that it can add moisture to the bedroom air
- Use an over-the-counter artificial saliva substitute
Here are also some over the counter products available in the market today to help overcome dry mouth problems.
To help fight the effects of dry mouth, these little breath strips can help. This cool mint reduces 52% more plaque and 21% more gingivitis than brushing and flossing alone. It also has an ADA seal of acceptance for fighting plaque and gingivitis and has over 100 years of safe use and 50 years of research. This product is effective in helping to prevent and reduce gingivitis and plaque above the gum line.
This product is #1 dentist and hygienist recommended spray for relief of dry mouth symptoms, and for immediate relief of dry mouth symptoms. It also has long-lasting soothing moisturization which helps keep mouth fresh and has a refreshing gentle mint flavor. To relieve your symptoms, spray this gentle mint directly into your mouth, onto the tongue, and spread thoroughly inside the mouth.
This product has been formulated by dentists and work in three stages to make sure your mouth is moist, fresh and healthy. Plus, it is certified vegan and gluten-free and also contains only healthy ingredients. Its proprietary blend of natural flavors and healthy ingredients acts quickly to relieve symptoms associated with dry mouth.
These soothing mint flavor ACT lozenges are formulated with Xylitol. This cures bad breath which is caused by dry mouth, and it helps in relieving the uncomfortable feeling of dry mouth, moisturize mouth tissue, and freshen your breath. It also helps provide temporary relief from dry mouth wherever you are.
This product is a soothing mouthwash which cleans and refreshes your mouth, and it also gently cleans a dry mouth, moisturizing minor irritation. It also helps protect against the odors associated with dry mouth. This mouthwash uses LP3 salivary enzyme-protein system. Plus, it is alcohol-free and it refreshes the mouth without burning.
This product is rated most effective by dentists and clinicians. It uses adhering discs for use while sleeping and daytime. It also coats, moisturizes, and lubricates, and gluten-free. These mints increase saliva reducing sleep disruption caused by dry mouth, and reduces the risk of tooth decay.