Havasu Dental Center

Everything You Need To Know About Dry Mouth

August 31, 2022
5 min read
Everything You Need To Know About Dry Mouth

What you need to know about dry mouth

It is normal to have an occasional dry mouth if you are dehydrated or nervous, but a persistent dry mouth may indicate an underlying problem. If you have a dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, it may be because the salivary glands in your mouth are not producing enough saliva. This is often the result of dehydration, which means you don't have enough fluid in your body to produce the saliva you need. But if you do not feel dehydrated despite drinking enough fluids and not being stressed, anxious or nervous, you should visit your dentist to determine the cause.

Importance of a moist mouth

We all need saliva to moisten, clean the mouth, and digest food. In addition, saliva helps moisten and break down food and prevents infection by controlling bacteria and fungi in the mouth. It also functions as an essential defense mechanism to help your body maintain good dental health, protecting your mouth from gum disease and tooth decay. Saliva is undervalued. We don't always consider how important saliva is to oral health. But when we don't have enough, it can cause big problems.

Why does my mouth become dry?

Dry mouth is not a severe medical problem in itself. However, sometimes it is a symptom of another underlying disease that requires treatment. It can also lead to complications and symptoms, such as tooth decay, mouth ulcers, bad breath, dry throat, and chapped lips. It is unpleasant and uncomfortable, but at Havasu Dental Center, we have a wide range of prevention and treatment strategies.

Dry mouth causes

Many factors can cause dry mouth. Also, having a dry mouth alone doesn't necessarily mean you have an underlying disease. Sometimes, dry mouth can be due to an underlying problem or medical condition, such as:

  • Medication: Antidepressants, antihistamines, bronchodilators, decongestants, muscle relaxants, and diuretics can cause dry mouth as a side effect. 
  • Stuffy nose: Breathing through your mouth while you can cause your mouth to dry out.
  • Diabetes: A person's high blood sugar can cause dry mouth.
  • Radiation therapy to the head and neck: can cause inflammation of the salivary glands (mucositis).
  • Diseases: Sjögren's syndrome is a disease in which the immune system attacks and damages the salivary glands. As well as HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer's, anemia, cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, Parkinson's, strokes and mumps.
  • Nerve damage. Due to injury or surgery, dry mouth may result from nerve damage in the head and neck area.
  • Lifestyle: Smoking or chewing tobacco, marijuana, or methamphetamines can affect the amount of saliva produced and aggravate dry mouth. Breathing with your mouth wide open can also contribute to the problem.

Some symptoms of dry mouth

Signs and symptoms may include: 

  • Bad breath
  • Cheilitis, or inflammation, splitting, and cracking of the lips.
  • Taste disorders
  • Fungal infections in the mouth, such as oral candidiasis
  • Sore tongue
  • Swelling of the tongue or tongue ulcers
  • Increased frequency of gum disease
  • More tooth decay and plaque
  • Problems swallowing and chewing, especially dry, brittle foods, such as crackers or cereals
  • Problems wearing dentures: problems keeping them in place, sores on the denture, and the tongue sticking to the roof of the mouth
  • Sialadenitis is an infection of the salivary glands.

Dry mouth treatment

When you see your dentist for dry mouth, the immediate goal is to restore moisture to your mouth. Treatments can range from over-the-counter products to prescriptions for medical diagnoses. Some of the conditions mentioned above have specific treatments, such as nasal decongestants for stuffy nose and insulin for diabetes. Your doctor may also prescribe artificial saliva or medications to increase saliva production in your mouth.

Preventative dentistry for dry mouth in Lake Havasu City, AZ

Dry mouth is a nuisance, super irritant if you wear dentures, and can even lead to other severe problems in the mouth if generally left unchecked. However, many home remedies can help a person get relief. Whether you only experience dry mouth at night or it is an ongoing problem, don't waste time wondering, "Why is my mouth so dry?" At Havasu Dental Center, we recommend that you see a professional as soon as possible. Dr. Shamos in Lake Havasu City, AZ, can help you discover the cause of your dry mouth and take steps to control and treat it. Remember, whatever the reason, dry mouth can have adverse effects on your long-term health and your pocketbook.

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