What are the main causes of dry mouth and what can you do about it?

Dry mouth is a condition where not enough saliva is produced to keep the mouth lubricated and comfortable. As a result, the mouth becomes dry and bad breath can appear. Dry mouth is also referred to as xerostomia and affects many thousands of people across the country.

Symptoms of dry mouth include:

  • Dryness in the mouth or throat
  • Bad breath
  • Thicker saliva
  • Difficult eating and swallowing
  • More frequent dental issues

Why is dry mouth a problem?

Apart from being uncomfortable and making eating and swallowing difficult, there are a few dental dangers with dry mouth. Sufferers of dry mouth experience more tooth decay, more plaque, gum disease and bad breath than usual because saliva isn’t present to manage bacteria levels. Saliva also helps regulate the pH level in the mouth, reducing enamel erosion.

The other issue with dry mouth is poor nutrition. Those who suffer from dry mouth will often miss meals or limit their intake because it is uncomfortable.

There are seven main causes of dry mouth. They are:

  • Aging
  • Medication
  • Chemotherapy
  • Nerve damage
  • Smoking
  • Drug use
  • Other medial causes such as HIV or Sjogren’s syndrome

Each of these causes contributes to dry mouth in a different way. Age doesn’t cause dry mouth, but older people suffer from it more because of illnesses, medications or other complications. Nerve damage from an accident or surgery is a known risk factor for dry mouth as is chemotherapy, smoking and drug use. All can contribute or cause dry mouth.

Other medical conditions such as HIV, Sjogren’s syndrome, breathing with an open mouth and snoring can all cause dry mouth. Curiously, a stroke or Alzheimer’s disease can make you feel like you have a dry mouth when you actually don’t.

Treatments for dry mouth

As with many medical issues, the correct identification of the root cause is always the first step in treating dry mouth. Lifestyle considerations such as smoking and drug use need to be factored in. So does your age, the medications you’re taking and any operations or accidents you may have had.

There are some things you can do at home to help with dry mouth. They include chewing sugar-free gum, eating sugar-free sweets, drinking lots of water, maintaining good oral health and breathing through your nose as much as possible.

If these don’t work, it’s time to visit Aesthetic Family Dentistry. We have a range of further treatments that can effectively treat dry mouth. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.