Symptoms, Causes, Risks, and Treatments
Having a dry mouth can become more than just an inconvenience. It can actually become a problem for your overall health. Knowing some of the causes may help you to overcome this problem and get some relief. Although there are several causes of dry mouth, there are also some things that you can do about it.
Dry Mouth Symptoms
Dry mouth can affect more than just not having enough saliva in your mouth. Depending on the severity of it, other dry mouth symptoms you might see include:
A dry or sore throat
Difficulty chewing and swallowing
An altered taste
Difficulties with your dentures
Causes of Dry Mouth
Dry mouth could be the result of a single problem or of a combination of problems. Here are some of the more common reasons for dry mouth.
Medications – More than 500 medications are known to cause problems with dry mouth. The primary drugs involved include medications for pain, anxiety, and high blood pressure. If you believe that a medication is causing your symptoms, you can ask your doctor to change it.
Aging – Growing older will often result in having less saliva. An increasing number of medications may cause it, as well as a change in nutrition, and a growing number of other health problems.
Smoking (tobacco and marijuana) – Smoking or using chewing tobacco reduces the amount of saliva you can produce.
Dehydration – You just are not drinking enough fluids in the day. Drinking more water should help bring some relief. It is recommended that you drink about 64 fluid ounces per day – or about as much as is in a two-liter bottle.
Disease – Several diseases are known to cause dry mouth. These include diabetes, cystic fibrosis, strokes, Sjogren's syndrome, anemia, HIV/AIDS, and Alzheimer's. A yeast infection in your mouth can also cause this problem.
Nerve Damage – If you have had an injury to a nerve in your neck or mouth, you may suffer from dry mouth as a result.
Diuretics – Drinking some liquids will only dry out your mouth even more. Liquids such as coffee and tea are diuretics, which mean they help your body to get rid of water faster – more frequent stops in the restroom. Alcohol of any kind is also in this category.
Stress – This common problem can also cause dry mouth. Most often experienced when having to speak before a group, stress or anxiety can cause it to be an ongoing problem.
Therapy for Cancer – When being treated for cancer, it is not unusual to develop dry mouth. It can be caused by chemotherapy and radiation – if the radiation damages your salivary glands.
Complications from Dry Mouth
The primary complication from dry mouth is that you will be much more prone to developing gum disease. Since your saliva naturally washes away the bacteria and acid from your teeth and gums, letting it multiply more and produce more acid means that you will develop cavities much faster and gum disease will progress faster.
Gum disease can be a real problem because, in a worst-case scenario, it could mean that you will lose some or all of your teeth. As the gums become irritated from the bacteria and acid, it starts an immune reaction. The reaction becomes an autoimmune problem that starts attacking your gums, the ligaments that support your teeth, and your jawbone. If not treated, your teeth will start to become loose and may even fall out.
Another problem that may develop is that you may get an oral yeast infection called thrush. This is like a white film that forms in your mouth in patches – and it will not brush off with a toothbrush. You will need some anti-fungal medications to get rid of it. Mouth sores are another problem that you can expect.
Dry Mouth Remedies
When you have dry mouth, there are several things you can do to get some dry mouth relief. They include:
Chewing on sugar-free gum or candy
Drink lots of water
Add a room vaporizer to your bedroom at night to prevent dry mouth at night
Get an over-the-counter saliva substitute.
When possible, breathe through your nose.
It is also important that you reduce your sugar intake. The bacteria that cause gum disease feed on sugar and will produce acid every time when you do.
Dry Mouth Treatment
When the above tips to help for dry mouth do not work, it is time to see a dentist. You can be prescribed medications that will increase your saliva, but imaging scans may also be taken to ensure that there are not any other problems. A sample may also need to be taken from your salivary glands to check for Sjogren's syndrome.
With dry mouth, it is important to visit a dentist regularly to ensure that your teeth and gums stay in good condition. When a problem develops, this will enable it to be treated quickly. If you already suffer from cavities and gum disease, Dr Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board Certified Periodontist, can help you. He provides many dental services for each family member and can help them keep their smile. He has offices in the Carrollton, TX, and Grapevine, TX areas and accepts most dental health plans. For a consultation or dental checkup, you can contact his office today at (817) 756-8578.