What is Dry Mouth, its Causes, and How is It Treated?

What is Dry Mouth, its Causes, and How is It Treated?

Aug 02, 2021

Do you have a dry, cottony feel in your mouth? You are not alone. Countless people suffer from xerostomia or dry mouth—a condition where your mouth doesn’t produce enough saliva.

Saliva plays a critical role in your mouth that ensures that your oral health is as it should be. However, when you are unable to make enough saliva, your mouth can be dry and uncomfortable.

Fortunately, our dentist in Billerica has the solution for you to help fight against dry mouth. But before we look at how dry mouth is treated, let’s see what it is about.

Fast Facts About Dry Mouth

Saliva is a critical part of your mouth and body. Over 99% of saliva is composed of water. In addition, saliva also has electrolytes, proteins, immunoglobulins, enzymes, nitrogenous products, and proteins.

Saliva is vital since it plays the following roles:

  • It helps you taste, chew, and swallow
  • It keeps your mouth comfortable and moist
  • Fights bacteria in your mouth
  • Prevents bad breath
  • Has minerals and proteins that help protect the tooth from tooth decay and gum disease
  • Aids digestion

So, when you have xerostomia, your salivary glands are not producing enough saliva. You will have a dry, parched, cottony feeling in your mouth. In most cases, it is a symptom of an underlying problem or a side effect of specific medications. On rare occasions, dry mouth is a result of a condition that affects the salivary glands.

Dry mouth is not a severe medical condition by itself. However, there are times when the condition can significantly impact your oral and overall health. It may also affect your enjoyment of food and appetite.

What Are the Causes of Dry Mouth?

A myriad of factors can cause dry mouth. Here are the causes of dry mouth:

  • A side effect of specific medications. Some prescription and non-prescription drugs, including medication that treats diarrhea, anxiety, colds, etc.
  • Symptom of certain diseases such as Sjögren’s syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, stroke, and mumps
  • Dehydration
  • Nerve damage to the neck area or head
  • Lifestyle habits such as smoking or chewing tobacco or breathing with your mouth open
  • Side effects of specific medical treatments such as chemotherapy that can damage the salivary glands
  • Aging

What Are the Symptoms of Dry Mouth?

If you have xerostomia, you will exhibit the following signs most or all of the time:

  • Bad breath
  • Dryness or stickiness in the mouth
  • Sore or dry throat
  • Changed sense of taste
  • Grooved or dry tongue
  • Sticky or stringy saliva
  • Difficulty speaking, chewing and swallowing

If you wear lipstick, you will notice that it adheres to your teeth.

What Complications Arise Because of Xerostomia?

If you have xerostomia and you have not sought treatment from our Billerica dentist near you, then the following complications may arise:

  • Yeast infection (oral thrush)
  • Poor nutrition because of difficulty chewing and swallowing
  • Cracked lips
  • Increased plaque, gum disease, and tooth decay
  • Mouth sores

How Is Dry Mouth Treated?

Dry mouth treatment is designed to increase saliva flow, manage any underlying condition that is causing dry mouth, and prevent tooth decay. Dry mouth treatment is dependent on the cause. Our dentist may:

  • Recommend products that aid to moisturize the mouth and might include prescription artificial saliva or mouth rinses
  • Change your medication if it is the cause of the condition
  • Prescribe medication that can stimulate saliva production
  • Protect your teeth by using fluoride trays and mouth rinses that control cavities

Also, our dentist near you may recommend lifestyle and home remedies that can help relieve dry mouth symptoms, such as:

  • Sip water or sugar-free drinks that will moisten your mouth
  • Drink water during meals to aid in chewing and swallowing
  • Chew sugar-free gum, which helps stimulate the salivary glands to produce saliva
  • Breathe through your nose
  • Soothe dry or cracked areas by moisturizing your lips
  • Avoid products that can make your symptoms become worse, such as tobacco, caffeine, alcohol, decongestants, acidic or sugary foods, and candies
  • Use a fluoride rinse or fluoride toothpaste to protect your teeth from cavities

If your symptoms are not subsiding, contact our Billerica dentist at One Dental Care to schedule an appointment.

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