What is Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth is a condition that occurs when salivary glands don’t create enough saliva to keep the mouth moist. This condition is commonly a side effect of medications, aging, or radiation therapy. Less commonly, dry mouth can be caused by a condition that is directly impacting the salivary glands.
Experiencing dry mouth is very uncomfortable and it can lead to other problems. A lack of saliva production can lead to tooth decay, bacteria growth, bad breath, and even gum disease. Saliva helps to wash away food particles, neutralizing acids, limits bacterial growth, and enhances your ability to chew, swallow, digest, and taste.
What Causes Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth is often a side effect of something else. Certain diseases, infections, and medications can lead to a lack of saliva production. Many prescription and over the counter drugs can cause dry mouth—some of these include medications for depression, anxiety, allergies, the common cold, acne and more. Other medical treatments can damage the salivary glands and lead to dry mouth—usually, these treatments are due to cancer. Radiation and chemotherapy treatments lead to dry mouth. Similar to medications, certain diseases and infections can also lead to a dry mouth. Some of these include AIDS, diabetes, stroke, mumps, fibrosis, and more.
Other causes to dry mouth include nerve damage, dehydration, smoking, and tobacco use.
Symptoms of Dry Mouth
The obvious symptom of dry mouth is dryness—in the mouth, throat, and nasal passages. Other symptoms include a sticky feeling in your mouth, thick and stringy salvia, frequent thirst, cracked lips, sores in the mouth, hoarseness, sore throat, bad breath, and a burning and tingling sensation.
How To Treat Dry Mouth
Treating your dry mouth will differ based on what is causing it. For example, if a certain medication causing your dry mouth, reducing or cutting out that medication can solve the problem. If your dry mouth is being caused by a certain illness or infection, treating that can also help your dry mouth.
However, if you are unable to some taking certain medications or treat your illness or infection, there are a few other options. To treat dry mouth, you can try:
- Sucking on a mint or candy or chewing gum. This will increase saliva production.
- Increase water intake—drink as much water as possible. Stay hydrated.
- Use fluoride toothpaste.
- Use a room humidifier to increase moisture in the air.
- Whenever possible, breath through your nose and avoid breathing through your mouth.
- Take over the counter artificial saliva substitute.
If you suspect that your dry mouth is due to a condition with your salivary glands, surgery may be an option. Contact the pros at Oral and Facial Surgery of Utah to find out what your options are and find a permanent solution to your dry mouth.