A dry mouth is a health condition where your saliva glands don’t produce adequate saliva. Dry mouth is also known as xerostomia, pasties, cottonmouth, drooth, doughmouth, or des. Most people usually develop dry mouth temporarily due to nervousness, stress, or anxiety. But if you are suffering from chronic dry mouth, then there may be some underlying causes.
Let’s unravel some dry mouth causes and then finally discover some effective dry mouth remedies.
Common Dry Mouth Cases
- Medications: Certain medications especially OTC medications may cause dry mouth. These medications can be antihistamines, decongestants, hypertensive medications, antidiarrheals, muscle relaxants, urinary continence drugs, some Parkinson’s disease medications, and antidepressants.
- Age: Though dry mouth is not related to your age; still, older people usually consume more medications than younger ones. Many of the medications are responsible for dry mouth in seniors.
- Cancer Treatment: Radiotherapy if given to the head and neck may damage the salivary glands. As a result, less saliva will be produced from the glands. On the other hand, chemotherapy can alter the nature of the saliva and how your body produces this saliva.
- Injury or Surgery: Sometimes, your nerve may get damaged due to the surgeries of the head and neck area. This can lead to a dry mouth.
- Tobacco: Either chewing or smoking tobacco enhances the risk of dry mouth symptoms.
- Dehydration: If you don’t intake adequate fluids you may get a dry mouth.
- Exercising or playing in the heat: If you do exercises or play outdoors continuously, your salivary glands become dry and you may feel a dry mouth.
Some health conditions may cause dry mouth. These conditions are:
- Anxiety disorders
- Parkinson’s disease
- Unmanaged diabetes
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Sleeping with the mouth open
- Stroke and Alzheimer’s disease
Some Symptoms of Dry Mouth
- Bad breath
- Cheilitis or inflammation on the lips
- Cracking of oral mucosa
- Dryness in the mouth cavity
- Taste disorders
- Fungal infections in the mouth
- Glossodynia or an aching tongue
- Need to drink water frequently, especially at night
- Inflammation of the tongue or tongue ulcers
- Lipstick sticking to teeth
- Persistent gum disease
- More tooth decay and plaque
- Speaking problems
- Problems in swallowing and chewing
- Facing difficulties wearing dentures, problems with denture retention, denture sores
- Sialadenitis, a salivary gland infection
- Sore throat
- Sticky saliva
- Stringy saliva
Once you are diagnosed with dry mouth, the next step is how to treat dry mouth.
Manage the Underlying Cause of the Dry Mouth
If you are suffering from dry mouth due to any medication, your doctor will adjust or alter the medications to control your condition. He/she may change the dosage or give a new medication that won’t lead to dry mouth.
When your dry mouth is a result of another disease or illness, your doctor will advise some products to lessen your symptoms. These products could be xylitol-containing mouthwashes, artificial saliva, or moisturizers that will help you to deal with dry mouth. Your doctor will also suggest changing some behavioral activities and other home treatments, like:
- Chewing sugar-free gums that will stimulate saliva flow
- Limiting your caffeine consumption
- Regular water sipping
- Using a humidifier to moisturize indoor air
- Discontinuing tobacco use
- Avoiding mouthwashes that consist of alcohol
- Discard breathing through the mouth; rather try to breathe through the nose
- Avoiding tooth decay
Dry Mouth Treatment
Once you have a dry mouth, your doctor will be more concerned about the development of tooth decay. He will inspire you to implement some treatments for dry mouth that will heighten better oral hygiene. These habits could be
- Avoiding acidic or sugary drinks
- While brushing your teeth, use fluoride toothpaste
- Using a fluoride rinse or gel before bedtime
- Visiting your dentist at least twice a year
- Using an artificial saliva product
Your healthcare expert will advise a specific artificial saliva product that will control the symptoms of dry mouth. These products could be either toothpaste or mouth gel. You need some prescribed drugs to treat your dry mouth.
But before using a product always discuss with your doctor or dentist so that you can have adequate knowledge regarding the potential side effects of the treatments. You may also ask him/her how the product will interact with any other prescribed medications.
After evaluating your medical history, the doctor or dentist will examine your mouth physically. Sometimes, they may refer to some blood tests and imaging scans of the salivary glands to understand your condition.
- Sialometry: This simple procedure measures the flow rate of your saliva. Collection devices are kept over duct orifices of the salivary glands. By using citric acid, saliva production is stimulated.
- Saliography: This type of radiographic examination gives pictures of your salivary glands and ducts. This procedure is helpful in identifying salivary gland stones and lumps.
- Biopsy: In this procedure, a small sample of salivary gland tissue is taken by the radiologist. The doctor refers to a biopsy test if malignancy is suspected.
The Bottom Line
Dry mouth is a health condition; it’s not a disease or syndrome. If you are experiencing some discomfort due to dry mouth symptoms, always consult a doctor. A healthcare professional can only diagnose your dry mouth condition and design the best line of treatment for you or suggest some dry mouth remedies.