Why Does My Mouth Feel Dry?
We have compiled this article on “Why Does My Mouth Feel Dry?” The reference links are at the bottom of the article.
Dry mouth, or xerostomia (zeer-o-SUIT-me-uh), refers to a condition in which the salivary glands in your mouth don’t make enough saliva to keep your mouth wet. Dry mouth 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 that directly affects the salivary glands.
Saliva helps prevent tooth decay by neutralizing acids produced by bacteria, limiting bacterial growth and washing away food particles. Saliva also enhances your ability to taste and makes it easier to chew and swallow. In addition, enzymes in saliva aid in digestion.
Decreased saliva and dry mouth can range from being merely a nuisance to something that has a major impact on your general health and the health of your teeth and gums, as well as your appetite and enjoyment of food.
Treatment for dry mouth depends on the cause.
What Causes Dry Mouth?
Causes of dry mouth include:
Dry mouth is a common side effect of many prescription and nonprescription drugs, including drugs used to treat depression, anxiety, pain, allergies, and colds (antihistamines and decongestants), obesity, acne, epilepsy, hypertension (diuretics), diarrhea, nausea, psychotic disorders, urinary incontinence, asthma (certain bronchodilators), and Parkinson’s disease. Dry mouth can also be a side effect of muscle relaxants and sedatives.
Dry mouth can be a side effect of medical conditions, including Sjögren’s syndrome, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, anemia, cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and mumps.
Damage to the salivary glands, the glands that make saliva, can reduce the amount of saliva produced. For example, the damage could stem from radiation to the head and neck, and chemotherapy treatments, for cancer.
Dry mouth can be a result of nerve damage to the head and neck area from an injury or surgery.
Conditions that lead to dehydration, such as fever, excessive sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, blood loss, and burns can cause dry mouth.
Surgical removal of the salivary glands.
Smoking or chewing tobacco can affect how much saliva you make and aggravate dry mouth. Breathing with your mouth open a lot can also contribute to the problem.
What Problems Can A Dry Mouth Cause?
Saliva plays an important role in keeping your mouth healthy. If you have a dry mouth, you may experience a number of other problems too, such as:
- a burning sensation or soreness in your mouth
- dry lips
- bad breath (halitosis)
- a decreased or altered sense of taste
- recurrent mouth infections, such as oral thrush
- tooth decay and gum disease
- difficulty speaking, eating or swallowing
It’s important to maintain good oral hygiene if you have a dry mouth to reduce the risk of dental problems. You should also see a dentist regularly, so they can identify and treat any problems early on.
If your doctor or dentist is able to determine what’s causing your dry mouth, treating this may improve your symptoms.
For example, if medication is suspected as the cause of your dry mouth, your doctor may reduce your dose or suggest trying an alternative medication.
Some of the conditions mentioned above have specific treatments, such as nasal decongestants for a blocked nose and insulin for diabetes.
There are simple measures you can try to help keep your mouth moist. For example, it may help to:
- increase your fluid intake – take regular sips of cold water or an unsweetened drink
- suck on sugar-free sweets or chew sugar-free gum – this can stimulate your salivary glands to produce more saliva
- suck on ice cubes – the ice will melt slowly and moisten your mouth
- avoid alcohol (including alcohol-based mouthwashes), caffeine and smoking – these can all make a dry mouth worse
If the measures above don’t help, your dentist, GP or specialist may suggest using an artificial saliva substitute to keep your mouth moist. This may come in the form of a spray, gel or lozenge. Use it as often as you need to, including before and during meals.
If your dry mouth is caused by radiotherapy or Sjögren’s syndrome, a medication called pilocarpine may be prescribed. This is taken as a tablet several times a day to help stimulate your salivary glands to produce more saliva.
However, pilocarpine isn’t suitable for everyone, as it may cause side effects, such as sweating or headaches.
Thank you for reading this article, and check back frequently for other dental health articles. Should you have any questions, please contact Apple Tree Dental today!
Article Compiled by Apple Tree Dental.
Article Reference Links:
- https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dry-mouth/symptoms-causes/syc-20356048#:~:text=Dry%20mouth%20can%20be%20due,Tobacco%20and%20alcohol%20use. ↑
- https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/dental-health-dry-mouth ↑
- https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/mouth/dry-mouth ↑