Dry mouth, or xerostomia (zeer-o-STOE-me-uh), describes any condition in which your mouth is unusually dry. Most often, dry mouth is the result of a decrease in saliva produced by the glands in your mouth (salivary glands), and it’s regularly a side effect of medication. Less frequently, dry mouth may be triggered by a condition that directly affects the salivary glands.
Dry mouth is a common issue. It can vary from being merely an annoyance to something that has a significant impact on your basic health and the health of your teeth, along with your appetite and enjoyment of food.
Saliva helps avoid tooth decay by neutralizing acids produced by bacteria, restricting bacterial growth and washing away food particles. Saliva also boosts your capability to taste and makes it easier to swallow. In addition, enzymes in saliva aid in food digestion.
Treatment for dry mouth depends upon the cause.
Symptoms of Dry Mouth
If you’re not producing enough saliva, you may see these symptoms and signs all or the majority of the time:
- Dryness in your mouth or throat
- Saliva that appears thick and stringy
- Bad breath
- Trouble chewing, speaking and swallowing
- An altered taste
- Issues wearing dentures
- More regular dental caries
- Gum irritation and gum disease
In addition, dry mouth may lead to lipstick sticking to the teeth.
When to see a doctor
If you’ve discovered persistent dry mouth symptoms and signs, make a visit with your family doctor or your dental expert.
Causes of Dry Mouth
Dry mouth has many causes:
- Medications. Hundreds of medications, consisting of numerous non-prescription drugs, produce dry mouth as a side effect. Among the most likely types to cause problems are a few of the substance abuse to treat depression, nerve pain (neuropathy) and anxiety, in addition to some antihistamines, decongestants, muscle relaxants and pain medications.
- Aging. The aging process doesn’t necessarily cause dry mouth. However, older people are more likely to take medications that might cause dry mouth, and they’re more likely to have other health conditions that can cause dry mouth.
- Cancer therapy. Chemotherapy drugs can alter the nature of saliva and the quantity produced. This might be temporary, with regular salivary flow returning after treatment has actually been finished. Radiation treatments to your head and neck can harm salivary glands, triggering a marked decline in saliva production. This can be temporary or permanent, depending on the radiation dose and area dealt with.
- Nerve damage. An injury or surgery that causes nerve damage to your head and neck area can result in dry mouth.
- Other health conditions. Dry mouth can be a consequence of certain health conditions, including the autoimmune disease Sjogren’s syndrome or HIV/AIDS. Stroke and Alzheimer’s disease might cause an understanding of dry mouth, although the salivary glands are functioning generally. Snoring and breathing with your mouth open likewise can add to dry mouth.
- Tobacco use. Smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco can increase dry mouth symptoms.
- Methamphetamine use. Methamphetamine use can cause severe dry mouth and damage to teeth, a condition also called “meth mouth.”
If you do not have enough saliva and establish dry mouth, this can result in:
- Increased plaque, dental caries and gum disease
- Mouth sores
- Fungal infection in your mouth
- Covered tongue
- Sores or split skin at the corners of your mouth
- Split lips
- Poor nutrition from having issues with chewing and swallowing
Treatment for Dry Mouth
Your treatment depends on the reason for your dry mouth. Your doctor or dental professional might:
- Change medications that cause dry mouth. If your doctor thinks medication to be the cause, she or he might adjust your dosage or change you to another medication that does not cause a dry mouth.
- Recommend items to moisturize your mouth. These can consist of prescription or non-prescription mouth rinses, synthetic saliva or moisturizers to lube your mouth.
If you have severe dry mouth, your doctor or dental professional might:
- Recommend medication that stimulates saliva. Your doctor may think about recommending pilocarpine (Salagen) or cevimeline (Evoxac) to promote saliva production.
- Secure your teeth. To prevent cavities, your dental expert might fit you for fluoride trays, which you fill with fluoride and use over your teeth for a few minutes during the night. Your dentist might also advise weekly use of a chlorhexidine rinse to manage cavities.