Dry mouth occurs when your mouth doesn’t produce enough saliva, leaving you with an uncomfortable dry sensation. This condition can be caused by a wide range of factors, ranging from stress and anxiety to certain medications and health conditions. In this article, we’re taking a look at the reasons you may experience dry mouth, what symptoms this condition can cause, and how to avoid the discomfort of dry mouth.
What is dry mouth?
Dry mouth - also known as Dry Mouth Syndrome or xerostomia - occurs when the salivary glands in your mouth don’t produce enough saliva. As a result, your mouth feels dry or parched. In addition to this dry sensation in the mouth, dry mouth can also cause other symptoms including bad breath, a dry throat and cracked lips.
While dry mouth isn’t a serious medical condition on its own, it can sometimes indicate an underlying health problem which will require further treatment. What’s more, if dry mouth is left untreated, it can lead to oral health complications such as tooth decay and gum disease.
What causes dry mouth?
Dry mouth can be caused by a wide range of factors, including:
- Stress and anxiety
- Smoking tobacco or marijuana
- Breathing predominantly through your mouth
- Taking certain medications, including some antihistamines, antidepressants, and appetite suppressants
- Undergoing radiation therapy on your head or neck
- Taking tranquilisers
- Certain medical conditions, including diabetes, oral thrush, Alzheimer’s disease, cystic fibrosis, HIV or AIDS, and Sjögren’s syndrome
What are the symptoms of dry mouth?
If you’re experiencing dry mouth, you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- A dry feeling in your mouth or throat
- Thick saliva
- Rough tongue
- Cracked lips
- Trouble chewing or swallowing
- An altered sense of taste
- Bad breath
When should I seek medical advice about dry mouth?
You should talk to your dentist or doctor if you have ongoing symptoms of dry mouth. Your doctor can review any medications you’re taking in order to identify whether they are the cause of your dry mouth, as well as perform blood tests and measure the amount of saliva you produce.
If you’ve experienced persistent dry mouth, your National Dental Care Group dentist will be able to check for signs of tooth decay and identify any underlying oral health issues which may be causing your dry mouth.
How can I address my dry mouth at home?
In most cases, dry mouth is a temporary and treatable condition. The following tips can help you to alleviate the symptoms of dry mouth and prevent this condition from occurring:
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water
- Avoid or reduce your consumption of alcohol and caffeine
- Stop smoking (talk to your doctor for advice on how to quit)
- Limit your salt and sugar intake
- Use a humidifier while you sleep
- Chew sugar-free gum
- Take over-the-counter saliva substitutes if advised by your doctor or dentist
- Maintain good oral hygiene by brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once per day
In addition, it’s important to stay up to date with your regular dental check-ups in order to prevent and treat any oral health issues such as tooth decay and gum disease which can result from dry mouth.
If your dry mouth is caused by an underlying medical condition, talk to your doctor about specific treatment options and long-term management.
To speak to your dentist about dry mouth, make an appointment with your local National Dental Care Group practice today. You can Book Online now.