Dry Mouth: Causes and Treatment

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.

Community Dental—Gentle, Safe, Comprehensive Dental Care

Our approach is to work with you to develop a comprehensive treatment plan designed to improve and maintain your good dental health through preventive and restorative services. We participate with Mainecare as well as many dental insurance plans, and offer a sliding fee for eligible patients. We offer walk-in appointments during business hours for dental emergencies. We treat all ages, so your whole family can become established patients with us. Good oral health care is an important aspect of your overall health. Contact us today or give us a call—we have several locations throughout the state and look forward to your visit!