What to Know About Dry Mouth and Oral Health

August 9, 2019

Dry mouth happens when the saliva in your mouth is naturally reduced, and it can be so irritating that many people complain it feels like having cotton in your mouth. You may occasionally experience dry mouth because of major anxiety, but if you have chronic dry mouth, you may have an underlying condition you need to treat or address.

If you have dry mouth and want to do more to care for your oral health, check out these commonly asked questions to learn more.

What Causes Dry Mouth?

Dry mouth has many causes, but is often related to some type of illness or treatments for these illnesses. For starters, many medications (both prescription and over-the-counter) may cause dry mouth. These commonly include medications for depression, anxiety, and blood pressure. Chemotherapy treatments for cancer patients may also lead to dry mouth.

If you have certain health conditions, such as diabetes, you may also notice reduced saliva flow. Other leading causes and risk factors include advanced age, nerve damage, tobacco use, and alcohol abuse.

What Are the Symptoms of Dry Mouth?

The main cause of dry mouth is little to no saliva in the mouth. This makes your mouth sticky, so even when you speak, your lips may stick to your teeth because of the lack of lubrication. In some cases, you may have some saliva, but it is thick. Other symptoms include bad breath, a dry or grooved tongue, and a change in sense of taste.

Because of the reduced lubrication to help move your lips and tongue properly, you may also have a hard time talking, chewing, and swallowing. Your voice may also be hoarse from a dry throat. Finally, dryness and irritation from air may lead to sores and split skin.

What Are the Complications of Dry Mouth?

The symptoms of dry mouth alone are annoying enough to make you want to seek treatment, but if you don’t, dry mouth can lead to long-term complications. Without saliva to naturally help wash away bacteria and plaque, your risk of gum disease, tooth decay, and infection increase.

If you wear dentures, dry mouth can also make them less likely to stay in your mouth. While you can use pastes to help create a stronger seal, your dentures actually stay in place because of your saliva. Your saliva helps suction the dentures to your gums. Without enough saliva, the dentures move and slip when you eat and talk.

How Is Dry Mouth Treated?

Treating dry mouth starts with finding the cause. If the cause is something you can fix, such as lifestyle changes, make the necessary changes to potentially stop your dry mouth. If medication is the cause, talk to your doctor about switching to a similar medication. If an illness is the leading cause, talk with your doctor about getting your illness under control to help reduce symptoms.

If you can’t make any changes, ask your dentist or doctor about saliva-stimulating medications. At the very least, however, you can buy products that help add moisture to your mouth. These will usually tell you they are specifically for dry mouth, and you can buy them at nearly any pharmacy or grocery store.

Dry mouth starts as annoying dryness that may make it hard to speak and eat. However, if left untreated, the reduced saliva increases your risk of many oral complications, including tooth loss and gingivitis.

If you want to know more about dry mouth, want to find out about medications that may promote saliva, or if you want to learn about other treatments for dry mouth, contact us at Vanyo Dentistry today.