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Saliva is important for ensuring healthy mouth functions. The saliva in our mouth can help with digestion, preventing infections and bacteria from developing, and cleansing our mouths. However, some individuals are naturally predisposed to produce less of this saliva in their mouths due to their salivary glands.

This condition is known as xerostomia or dry mouth, or in simple terms, dry mouth. It can also be known as cottonmouth or dough mouth. Having a dry mouth is not just uncomfortable, but it can also lead to the development of tooth decay and infections. Moreover, while dry mouth is not a disease on its own, it can potentially be a cause of an underlying one.

This is why we have put together this thorough guide on everything you need to know about dry mouth conditions and what their treatment entails.

What is Xerostomia or Dry Mouth?

Xerostomia or dry mouth, is essentially a symptom or condition wherein an individual does not produce enough saliva in their mouth. If you feel you may not have enough saliva in your mouth, you might be experiencing this condition.

There are also other symptoms that may point toward the existence of a dry mouth. They include the following:

  • Dryness and stickiness in the mouth
  • Feeling thirsty frequently
  • Cracked and chapped lips
  • Sores in the mouth
  • Constant dry feeling in the throat
  • A tingling feeling on your tongue
  • A raw and red tongue
  • Trouble with swallowing, tasting, and chewing
  • Sore throat
  • Bad breath

What Causes Dry Mouth?

Dry mouth is not a condition that occurs simply because you have not had enough water. More often than not, it is simply a symptom or cause of an underlying condition. The most common reason for dry mouth is because of excessive medication. Some medication makes your mouth drier and makes you produce less saliva. This is also one of the main reasons why older adults tend to experience dry mouth.

Besides this, dry mouth can be caused by the following:

1.    Medication Use

Unfortunately, dry mouth is a common side effect of various kinds of drugs and medication. These can include prescription and nonprescription drugs, such as those for depression, allergies, pain, and colds. Additionally, they are also a side effect of sedatives and muscle relaxants.

2.    As a Result of Certain Diseases

As we mentioned earlier, xerostomia or dry mouth is typically a symptom of an underlying condition or disease. Hence, your dry mouth may be caused by certain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, AIDS, hypertension, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, stroke, etc.

3.    As a Result of Certain Medical Treatments

If you have undergone certain medical treatments, you might experience dry mouth as a side effect. This is because the procedure may have impacted your salivary glands. Hence, they would end up producing less saliva. Such procedures include chemotherapy or radiation to the neck or head where the salivary glands are situated.

4.    Aging

Elderly individuals are more disposed to experiencing dry mouth because of the medications they take and simply because of their age. As we get older, our bodies would less effectively process medication and have long-term health problems. As a result, they also produce less saliva. This is why older individuals have drier mouths compared to younger ones.

5.    Chemotherapy

This treatment can directly impact our salivary glands, which can lead to less production of saliva. As one receives chemotherapy, they produce less saliva. Additionally, their saliva also becomes stickier and thicker.

6.    Excessive Tobacco and Alcohol Use

Individuals who are more likely to smoke and consume tobacco and alcohol are also more likely to experience a dry mouth condition since they are more at risk.

7.    Excessive Recreational Drug Use

Marijuana users, who smoke it excessively, are at higher risk of having a dry mouth. Similarly, individuals who smoke Methamphetamine can suffer from severe side effects. These include damage to the teeth and excessive dry mouth.

8.    Dehydration

Conditions and illnesses that lead to excessive sweating can also lead to a dry mouth. Such conditions can include vomiting, fever, diarrhea, burns, and blood loss.

Dry Mouth Treatment

Treatment of dry mouth depends largely on what has caused it. Dry mouth due to salivary glands is often a lifelong condition, which is why treatment requires patience and consistency. The goals of dry mouth treatment are to manage the underlying condition causing it in the first place. Additionally, it also involves preventing tooth decay and increasing saliva flow.

Some way to reduce the severity of your dry mouth condition is to sip water right before ingesting capsules and medication. You should also take this medication in the morning rather than at night because it can cause mouth problems like cavities.

Besides this, you should follow good oral hygiene methods. This is necessary to ensure your dry mouth does not become severe. Hence, you must brush your teeth twice a day and use mouthwash and floss. This will prevent any tooth from decaying. People with xerostomia or dry mouth are more at risk of developing cavities and tooth decay, which is why practicing good oral hygiene habits is necessary.

Saliva is also the most important thing to ensure good and healthy hygiene in the mouth. Hence, you can opt for home remedies that can naturally aid in increasing saliva production. These can include chewing and sucking on sugar-free ice pops or ice cubes. Similarly, you can also try sugar-free candy. Lastly, don’t forget to sup water frequently throughout the day.

Moreover, you should avoid foods and beverages that are too salty or spicy since they can make your mouth drier. Try to avoid caffeinated drinks, like tea and coffee and sodas. Smoking and mouthwashes with peroxide or alcohol can also lead to a drier mouth, so avoid those.

Dry mouth can be very uncomfortable and must not be neglected as it can cause other oral health problems if left untreated, such as cavities, gum inflammation, periodontitis, and bad breath. Book an appointment at Dr. Paul’s Dental Clinic and get your consultation soon.