What Is Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth (called xerostomia [zeer-oh-sto'mia]) is characterized by decreased saliva in the mouth. It is a common effect of many medications, health conditions and other factors. Seniors are especially prone to dry mouth due to medications and health conditions. Dry mouth is uncomfortable and annoying, and it can cause serious problems for your teeth
What Causes Dry Mouth
Dry mouth can be the result of medication, lifestyle, or health conditions. Below is a list of just some of the causes of dry mouth:
- Medications: Over 400 medication s list dry mouth as a potential side effect. This includes over-the-counter medicines such as antihistamines and decongestants. Antidepressants, blood pressure medicine, and many more are also culprits.
- Health Conditions: A number of health problems can cause dry mouth:
- Diabetes: Dry mouth is a symptom of Type 2 diabetes.
- Asthma: Use of inhalers can cause dry mouth, as can breathing through the mouth
- Sjögren’s syndrome: Dry mouth and eyes are a symptom of this autoimmune disorder.
- Salivary gland disease: Damage to this gland can cause problems with saliva productions, resulting in dry mouth
- Lifestyle: Dehydration, intense exercise, smoking, alcohol use, and drug use can all contribute to symptoms of dry mouth.
How Does Dry Mouth Affect Oral Health?
Dry mouth can be very damaging to your teeth. Saliva plays an important part in keeping your mouth healthy by neutralizing acids and washing away food debris. When your low on saliva, bacteria can build up in your mouth, making you more susceptible to cavities, gum disease, and tooth loss.
What Can I Do About Dry Mouth?
How you treat dry mouth depends on the cause. If medication is causing your dry mouth, talk to your doctor about alternatives. Other ways to fight dry mouth:
- Drink lots of water
- Brush and floss twice daily
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol
- Rinse with alcohol-free mouthwash
- Use artificial saliva, available at most pharmacies
- Visit your dentist regularly for cleanings and check-ups
If you continue to have problems with dry mouth, contact you doctor or dentist right away. This could be a sign of a more serious medical condition.