Dry Mouth – Causes, Signs, and Treatment

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Dry mouth is an ailment that generally results from decreased production of saliva. Find out more about this condition, what causes it, what are the symptoms, and how to treat it effectively.

We all need saliva to keep our mouths moist, rinse them and digest food. Also, saliva helps prevent infection by dealing with bacteria and fungi in the mouth. If you do not generate ample quantities of saliva, your mouth can get dry and rough. This condition is called dry mouth or xerostomia.

Dry mouth affects approximately 10% of the entire world’s population. It is more prevalent in women than men. Saliva production disorders affect elderly people and people who regularly take various medications. Dry mouth can make it hard for people to speak and it may even lead to malnutrition. Extreme cases of dry mouth or xerostomia can cause serious and long-lasting mouth and throat disorders, which can hinder the quality of life of people who suffer from it.

What Are the Main Causes of Dry Mouth?

  • Dry mouth can be a side effect of certain medications
  • It can be a side effect of certain diseases and infections
  • It can be a side effect of certain medical treatments
  • Dry mouth can occur as a result of nerve damage
  • It can be caused by conditions that lead to dehydration (fever, vomiting, diarrhea, burns, blood loss, and excessive sweating)
  • Dry mouth can be caused by the surgical removal of salivary glands
  • It can be caused by smoking or chewing tobacco as well as frequently breathing with an open mouth

What Are the Common Signs and Symptoms of Dry Mouth?

  • A rough, dry sensation in the mouth
  • Constant thirst
  • Lesions in the mouth and cracked lips
  • A dry sensation in the throat
  • A burning, itchy sensation in the mouth and on the tongue
  • A red, rough tongue devoid of moisture
  • Not being able to speak properly
  • Not being able to chew, taste, and swallow properly
  • Bad breath

Apart from causing the aforementioned significant problems, dry mouth or xerostomia also raises the risk of gum disease, mouth infections, and tooth decay. It can also make it hard wearing dentures.

What Does the Treatment of Dry Mouth Involve?

If there is a reason to believe that your case of dry mouth is caused by certain medication you are taking, then your first step should be consulting with your doctor. Your doctor may modify the dose of the medication or swap the medication with another drug that does not cause dry mouth.

There are certain things you can try in order to increase saliva flow:

  • You can eat sugar-free candy or chew sugar-free gum
  • You can drink large amounts of water in order to keep your mouth moist
  • You should brush your teeth with a tooth paste that contains fluoride, use a fluoride rinse, and regularly visit your dentist
  • You should breathe through your nose as much as possible
  • You can use a room vaporizer
  • You can use an over-the-counter artificial saliva substitute

There is actually no way to fully prevent dry mouth. However, you can use some of these simple methods to help stimulate the production of saliva, which will raise the chances of avoiding the troublesome side effects of dry mouth. You will also protect your teeth and gums in the process.

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