A dry mouth, officially termed Xerostomia, is caused by a shortage of saliva and can be both irritating and a risk for your oral health.
Dry mouth can be caused by a reduced production of saliva by the glands, or an increase in the evaporation of fluid due to breathing to your mouth.
Saliva is essential in the fight against bacteria and acids, and having too little of it can cause problems to our teeth.
Here we discuss the common causes of a dry mouth, and what you can do to reduce the symptoms or sometimes completely resolve them.
What Are The Causes Of A Dry Mouth?
Use Of Medication
There are many medicines that reduce the production of saliva by the glands as a side effect, like drugs for treating depression, allergies, sleeping disorders, and pain.
It is unusual that these medications damage the salivary glands, but do reduce the saliva production.
Also, people that are being treated for cancer by chemotherapy or radiotherapy can experience a dry mouth.
These complaints can be temporary or can become a permanent problem, depending on whether the salivary glands are in the area that is being irradiated.
Peoples that age are more likely to use medication and are therefore more likely to have symptoms of a dry mouth.
Disease And Conditions
- You can get a dry mouth when having signs of dehydration, fever or diarrhea
- Diabetic patients that have their medication not properly adjusted can get problems with a dry mouth. These complaints are often reduced once the medications have been corrected
- A continues dry mouth can occur with patients suffering from AIDS or Sjörgen’s Syndrome
- A neck trauma that has damaged the nerves in the neck can cause a temporary or permanent dry mouth
- Individuals that snore a lot or are forced to breathe through their mouth can experience a dry mouth
Smoking And Drug Use
People who smoke or chew tobacco can get problems with a dry mouth. Drug users also, especially with methamphetamines like XTC.
Treatments For a Dry Mouth
Depending on the cause of your dry mouth you can take some actions. It is strongly advisable to discuss treatment with your physician and dentist.
Stimulating the saliva production
You can stimulate the production of saliva by eating foods that need chewing, like fiber-rich bread, carrots and sugar-free gum or special gum for dry mouth (chewing gums reviewed). Lightly sour foods can also stimulate the saliva production, such as cucumbers and fruits.
These remedies hardly work when you have been irradiated or when you suffer from Sjörgen’s Syndrome. When you are taking medicine that causes you to have a dry mouth, you can discuss with your physician whether it is possible to change to a different kind of medication or alter the dosing or time of administration.
When your salivary glands are not functioning anymore, it is impossible to stimulate saliva production. In this case, you can use saliva replacements. These are special fluid gels (like Biotène Oral Balance) or sprays (like Glandosane or Xialine).
Some of these replacement fluids are slightly acidic, so when you still have your own teeth, you need to take this into account as frequent use can cause tooth erosion.
Never start these products on your own, always make sure to discuss this with your physician and dentist!