What Causes Dry Mouth and How Can it Affect Your Teeth?

A decrease in saliva and dry mouth can range from being a mild annoyance to something that has a major impact on your general and oral health.

Have you ever experienced a dry mouth? Almost everyone has, and it can be an uncomfortable feeling. However, a constant dry mouth is a common problem for many people. In fact, dry mouth affects approximately 10% of all people and is often more prevalent for women than men.

If you or a loved one suffers from a dry mouth, it can be due to certain health conditions, medications, or other factors. At The Dental Anesthesia Center, we can help you determine what is causing your dry mouth and can then work to improve your situation.

What is Dry Mouth?

Dry mouth is a condition in which the salivary glands in your mouth don’t produce enough saliva to keep your mouth wet. Saliva is essential to prevent tooth decay because it neutralizes the acids produced by bacteria, limits bacterial growth, and washes away particles of food. Saliva also helps in making food taste better and makes it easier to chew and swallow. Finally, saliva aids digestion.

A decrease in saliva and dry mouth can range from being a mild annoyance to something that has a major impact on your general and oral health. It can also affect your appetite and being able to enjoy the food you eat.

Symptoms of Dry Mouth

If you suffer from a decrease in saliva or dry mouth, you may notice some of these signs and symptoms:

  • Bad breath
  • Dryness or stickiness in your mouth
  • Saliva that is thick or stringy
  • Trouble chewing and swallowing
  • Trouble talking
  • Dry or sore throat
  • Dry or grooved tongue
  • A change in the sense of taste
  • Issues wearing dentures

If you notice some of these symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor.

Causes of Dry Mouth

As mentioned, dry mouth is caused when the salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva. The reasons why these glands may not be working correctly can vary greatly. Some of the most common causes of dry mouth include:

  • Medications – There are hundreds of both prescription and over-the-counter medications that cause dry mouth as a side effect. Some of the more common medications that cause this are those used to treat high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression. Drugs such as decongestants, antihistamines, muscle relaxers, and pain relievers can also cause dry mouth.
  • Cancer therapy – Chemotherapy drugs wreak havoc on the body. They can change the nature of saliva and the amount produced. Once the chemo is over, normal saliva production may return. Radiation treatment can also disrupt salivary gland production. Again, this may be temporary or permanent, depending on the does and area of the body treated.
  • Aging – Changes in the salivary glands can change as a person ages. Many older persons are on medications that commonly cause dry mouth. Also, health problems, inadequate nutrition, and other body changes can contribute to dry mouth.
  • Eating disorders – Many struggling with anorexia and bulimia experience dry mouth. It can be caused by not taking in enough fluids, poor nutrition, and dehydration due to vomiting.
  • Other health conditions – People who have diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, autoimmune diseases, and stroke often experience dry mouth. Snoring and constantly breathing with your mouth open also contribute to dry mouth.
  • Habits – Overdrinking alcohol, smoking, chewing tobacco, and recreational drug use can cause severe dry mouth and damage teeth, gums, and jawbone.

Schedule an Appointment

If you or a loved one experiences dry mouth and the many side effects that it can cause, contact The Dental Anesthesia Center to schedule an appointment. We will examine your mouth to determine the cause of your dry mouth and review your medical history and all the medications you are taking. We will then discuss your options, which may include a special mouthwash, artificial saliva, or moisturizers to lubricate your mouth.

Call Us Today

The Only Board Certified Dental Anesthesiologist in Missouri, including the St. Louis Metro Area.

Call (314) 862-7844
Updated: August 31, 2023

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