Xerostomia also called dry mouth, is caused when salivary glands do not produce enough saliva to keep the mouth wet. A dry mouth can be caused by medications, dehydration, or breathing through the mouth. Chronic dry mouth can lead to serious problems, severe dental health issues and should not be ignored.

Causes of Dry Mouth

When salivary glands are not working properly as the result of:

1. Medications

  • Among the more likely types of dry mouth issue-causing medications are various drugs used to treat depression, high blood pressure, and anxiety, as well as different antihistamines, decongestants, muscle relaxants, and pain medications.

2. Aging

  • Aging often results in increased medication use, changes in the body's ability to process medication, inadequate nutrition, and long-term health problems.

3. Cancer Therapy

  • Head and neck radiation treatments can damage salivary glands, causing a marked decrease in saliva production.

4. Nerve Damage

  • An injury or surgery that causes head or neck nerve damage can result in a dry mouth.

5. Tobacco and Alcohol Use

  • Drinking alcohol and smoking or chewing tobacco increases dry mouth symptoms.

6. Night Sleeping

  • Dry mouths manifest mostly at night during sleeping, especially in mouth-breathers.

Signs and Symptoms of Dry Mouth

  • Burning, sore, or tingling sensation in mouth, tongue, or throat

  • Dryness in the mouth and throat

  • Frequent thirst, dry eyes, pale gums, and hoarseness

  • Difficulty speaking, chewing, and swallowing (dysphagia)

  • Increased desire to drink and swallow liquids

  • Diminished or altered sense of taste.

  • Chapped or cracked lips

  • Difficulty wearing dentures

  • Mouth sores, ulcers, nausea, and bad breath

  • White tongue, indicative of a fungal infection like yeast (candidiasis)

  • Red, bleeding gums, gingivitis, and periodontitis

  • Tooth decay, especially around the gum line or on the root surfaces

  • Fungal infections occurring in an individual with dry mouth may be associated with underlying diseases or disorders such as Addison's disease, HIV, or diabetes.

  • A common sign of fungal infection of the mouth is a burning tongue or white or dark plaque on the tongue or soft tissues of the mouth.

Untreated Dry Mouth can Lead to Serious Problems

  • Cavities

  • Gingivitis (gum disease)

  • Halitosis (bad breath)

  • Improper denture fit

  • Yeast infections

Dry Mouth Treatment

Tips to Ease Dry Mouth

  • Avoid decongestants and antihistamines when possible.

  • Sip water before swallowing capsules or tablets. Water moistens the mouth.

  • Take medication in the morning, not at night. Dry mouth at night is more likely to cause mouth problems such as cavities.

  • Try easy-to-swallow formulas, such as liquids. Avoid under-the-tongue forms.

Dry Mouth Remedies

Make Your Own Mouthwash

  • Blend 1 cup of warm water with 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1/8 teaspoon salt.

  • Swish in your mouth for a few seconds, then rinse with water.

  • Repeat every three hours.

  • As a break from the mouthwash, keep other liquids nearby to sip and to keep your mouth and throat moist


Avoid

  • Acidic, spicy, salty, dry, and sugary foods and beverages.

  • Alcohol, caffeine, and carbonated drinks.

  • Mouthwashes with alcohol or peroxide, which may dry your mouth even more.

  • Smoking.

Dry Mouth Prevention

  • Drink plenty of water. Aim for eight glasses of water per day, sipping frequently.

  • Use a humidifier, especially in bedrooms, to prevent dry mouth at night.

  • Breathe through your nose, not your mouth.

  • Gently brush teeth at least twice a day.

  • Floss teeth every day.

  • Use toothpaste with fluoride.

  • Avoid sticky, sugary foods. If you do eat them, brush immediately afterward.

  • Visit your dentist at least twice a year. Your dentist might also suggest you use a prescription-strength fluoride gel.



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