When your mouth doesn’t produce enough saliva, this may lead to tooth decay, infection or tooth loss.
Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a condition in which the salivary glands in your mouth don’t make enough saliva to keep your mouth wet.
It is commonly a symptom of the natural aging process, however, there are other causes such as sleeping with mouth open, smoking, radiation treatment, certain medications you may be taking, diabetes, and other health conditions.
Here are the most common causes for dry mouth:
- Medications. Hundreds of medications, including many over-the-counter drugs, produce dry mouth as a side effect. Among the more likely types to cause problems are some of the drugs used to treat depression, high blood pressure, and anxiety, as well as some antihistamines, decongestants, muscle relaxants, and pain medications.
- Aging. Many older people experience dry mouth as they age. Contributing factors include the use of certain medications, changes in the body’s ability to process medication, inadequate nutrition, and having long-term health problems.
- Cancer therapy. Chemotherapy drugs can change the nature of saliva and the amount produced. This may be temporary, with normal salivary flow returning after treatment is completed. Radiation treatments to your head and neck can damage salivary glands, causing a marked decrease in saliva production. This may be temporary or permanent, depending on the radiation dose and the area treated.
- Nerve damage. An injury or surgery that causes nerve damage to your head and neck area can result in dry mouth.
- Other health conditions. Dry mouth can be due to certain health conditions, such as diabetes, stroke, yeast infection (thrush) in your mouth or Alzheimer’s disease, or due to autoimmune diseases, such as Sjogren’s syndrome or HIV/AIDS. Snoring and breathing with your mouth open also can contribute to dry mouth.
- Tobacco and alcohol use. Drinking alcohol and smoking or chewing tobacco can increase dry mouth symptoms.
We almost all get a dry mouth at some point, often when we are upset, under stress, or frightened.
However, when your mouth is dry most of the time, it’s very important to take action as this can lead to bad breath, inflammation of the tongue, ulcers, tooth decay, and much more.
Some great ways to help prevent dry mouth are to:
- Stay hydrated by frequently drinking water throughout the day
- Chewing sugar-free gum
- Brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day
- If you smoke or regularly consume alcohol, reduce or consider quitting
- Consume caffeine in moderation
- Avoid spicy and acidic foods late in the day
- Good oral hygiene habits
If you’re finding that you still suffer from dry mouth and it doesn’t seem to be improving, please contact our practice in Kew to make an appointment with one of our experienced practitioners.
Has it been longer than six months since your checkup and cleaning? Book your next visit at Kew Dental today by calling us on 03 9817 3685 or by requesting an appointment here online.