What is Dry Mouth?

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According to Mayo Clinic, “Dry mouth is caused when the salivary glands in the mouth don’t make enough saliva to keep your mouth wet.”

Dry mouth can create serious oral health issues, since saliva is necessary to wash away food, neutralize bacteria’s acid, and protect against tooth decay.

But what causes dry mouth? How do you know if you have it? And more importantly, how can you treat it?

In this post, we’ll cover the causes, symptoms, and effects of dry mouth, as well as your treatment options.

baby drinking water

Causes of Dry Mouth

Dry mouth can occur for many reasons.

It’s often a side effect of medications people are taking. According to Mayo Clinic, “hundreds of medications, including many over-the-counter drugs,” can cause dry mouth. Common culprits include some types of antidepressants, anxiety medications, blood pressure regulators, muscle relaxants, pain relievers, and decongestants. Chemotherapy can also cause dry mouth. It can also be a natural side effect of aging, too.

Symptoms of Dry Mouth

Often, the symptoms of dry mouth are fairly obvious. You may experience cracked lips, and it may be difficult to talk or swallow.

Other times, the symptoms of dry mouth are harder to spot. You may only realize you have a problem when you visit the dentist for your biannual cleaning. When examining a mouth that suffers from xerostomia, signs can range from tissue and instruments not being able to easily glide across the teeth, to a significant amount of plaque buildup—even in the absence of tartar.

It’s important to treat dry mouth as soon as it’s discovered.

Why? It can cause the following effects.

Effects of Dry Mouth

Dry mouth can destroy your teeth. Without saliva, plaque and sugar build up, and everything sticks to your teeth.

This leads to an increased amount of decay, especially where crowns or fillings meet the tooth. “Plaque likes to sit” in these areas, says Dr. Kristi Scherweit. This can lead to what’s known as “recurrent decay” in an area that already has a restoration. Recurrent decay is a new area of decay that is adjacent to a previous restoration such as a filling or crown.

Dry mouth can also increase your risk of gum disease. Symptoms include bad breath, swollen gums, and painful chewing. Finally, dry mouth can also make it difficult to wear dentures.

Treatments for Dry Mouth 

So, how can you treat dry mouth?

Sometimes, it’s as simple as drinking more water, eating sugar-free mints, or chewing sugar-free gum with xylitol, which increases saliva production and keeps your mouth at a less acidic pH that’s less hospitable to bacteria.

Mouthwashes are great for reliving dry mouth, as there are different types to help with various issues. Biotene products are made specifically for helping with xerostomia (dry mouth).  We also recommend All Day Spray which is manufactured by a different company. There are many different options available for a salivary substitute, and it’s important to find what works best for you.

Do You Have Dry Mouth?

Sometimes, you know when you have dry mouth. But often, you don’t realize it’s become a problem.

At Boger Dental, we often diagnose dry mouth when our patients show up for routine cleanings. And scheduling a dental appointment is your best option for fighting dry mouth. Your dentist will be able to diagnose any oral health issues, including dry mouth, and get you the care you need.