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The Effects of Dry Mouth and How to Prevent It

July 9, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — drlindsey @ 10:21 pm
Woman chewing gum to prevent dry mouth

Do you think you are suffering from dry mouth? This is a condition in which the salivary glands aren’t producing enough saliva to keep your mouth wet. There is a large range of reasons that you could be experiencing this and many ways that you can combat it. Continue reading to learn more about what the causes of dry mouth, or xerostomia, are and what you can do to prevent it.

What Are the Symptoms of Dry Mouth?

Do you think that you have dry mouth? If you do, you may have noticed some of these symptoms:

  • Dryness or “stickiness” in the mouth
  • Thick, stringy saliva
  • Difficulty chewing, speaking, and swallowing
  • Dry or grooved tongue
  • Change in taste
  • Bad breath
  • Sore throat or hoarseness

If you have dry mouth, you can develop complications like increased tooth decay, gum disease, thrush, cracked lips, split skin in the corners of your mouth, and mouth sores.

What Are the Causes of Dry Mouth?

There are numerous reasons that you could be experiencing dry mouth. Here are some of the most common reasons:

  • Certain medication: There are hundreds of medications, including some over-the-counter drugs that can cause dry mouth as a side effect. Some that are more likely to cause this issue are medications for depression, high blood pressure, anxiety, and reducing pain. Certain antihistamines, decongestants, and muscle relaxants can also cause this.
  • Chemotherapy: The drugs used for chemotherapy can change the nature of saliva and the amount that is produced. Radiation treatments to your neck and head can also cause this. It can be either temporary or permanent depending on the dosage and area.
  • Tobacco, alcohol, and recreational drug use: Smoking tobacco products, drinking alcoholic beverages, and using recreational drugs like marijuana can cause and increase dry mouth symptoms.
  • Other health conditions: Certain health issues like diabetes, heart conditions, yeast infections in the mouth, Alzheimer’s disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, and HIV can contribute to dry mouth.

How Can You Treat Dry Mouth?

  • Alter your medications: If a medication is causing you to have dry mouth, talk to your doctor. You may be able to have the dose of your medication lowered or switch medications entirely.
  • Use products made for dry mouth: Certain mouthwashes and other products are made specifically for people who don’t produce enough saliva.
  • Chew sugar-free gum: Chewing gum that contains xylitol helps to prevent cavities by stimulating saliva production.
  • Drink water: If you’re dehydrated, it’s difficult for your body to produce enough saliva. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Don’t smoke: Using tobacco products is a common cause of dry mouth. Talk to your doctor, friends, and family about the best ways that you can quit.

If dry mouth is becoming an issue for you, talk to your dentist. She will be able to give you the best advice possible for taking care of your smile.

About the Author

Dr. Shiloh Lindsey is a family and cosmetic dentist serving patients in the Fort Collins area. She completed dental school Summa Cum Laude as the valedictorian at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center School of Dentistry. She opened her very own practice in 2001 and commits herself to ongoing education. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit her website or call (970) 482-3166.

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