Dry Mouth and Your Health

Posted .

Xerostomia, or dry mouth, is a condition affecting your saliva production. When the salivary glands in your mouth lower their production, you may notice dryness in the mouth and throat, thick or stringy saliva along or unpleasant breath. You may experience difficulty chewing, talking, or swallowing, along with a change in taste. People with dry mouth also tend to have a hard time wearing dentures and suffer from an increase in tooth decay and gum disease.

So why does dry mouth happen?

1) Dehydration from excess caffeine, alcohol or tobacco use (chewing or smoking) or fever, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive sweating, blood loss, or burns. Your mouth can also dry out when breathing through your mouth or snoring with your mouth open, making you wake up with “morning breath”.

2) Medications both prescription and nonprescription drugs list dry mouth as a side effect. This extensive list includes medications for obesity, acne, epilepsy, hypertension, urinary incontinence, asthma, and Parkinson’s disease. If you are taking any of the following medications, watch out for dry mouth: depression and anxiety, pain, allergy, antihistamines and decongestants for colds, obesity, acne, epilepsy, hypertension (diuretics), muscle relaxants, sedatives, diarrhea, nausea, psychotic disorders, urinary incontinence, asthma, and Parkinson’s disease.

3) Medical conditions including nerve damage to the head and neck area from an injury or surgery can cause dry mouth, as can anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, cystic fibrosis, hypertension, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and mumps. HIV/AIDS and Sjogren’s syndrome (autoimmune disease) lower saliva production, while stroke and Alzheimer’s disease may make you feel like you have dry mouth when in reality your salivary glands are working fine. Cancer therapy can sometimes damage the salivary glands, and chemotherapy drugs can alter saliva production.

Things you can do to relieve dry mouth include sipping water frequently throughout the day, chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free hard candies, using a non-alcohol based mouthwash, and using a room humidifier while sleeping. If your dry mouth arises from medications, you may need to switch medications or alter the dosage.

If you have any questions or concerns about dry mouth, please give our team at Blue Ridge Dentistry a call at 828-264-3333 today!