Dry Mouth Causes and Treatments

April 21, 2015 — by Dr. Nathaniel Podilsky
Tags: Dry Mouth Bad Breath Restorative Dentistry

Couple drinking coffee on the balconyIf you have developed dry mouth, it can greatly affect your comfort and quality of life. Perhaps more importantly, the condition can increase your risk for decay and other oral health concerns. Fortunately, Dr. Podilsky and his team provide several general dentistry treatments to address dry mouth. The most appropriate treatment for you will depend on the severity and cause of your condition. Dr. Podilsky will carefully evaluate your oral health and monitor your progress to improve the health of your teeth and gums. To learn more about dry mouth treatments, contact our Edmonton practice today.

What Is Dry Mouth?

Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, occurs when your salivary glands do not produce enough saliva. The condition can cause a range of symptoms of varying severity, including:

  • A dry, scratchy feeling in your mouth and throat
  • Sandpapery feeling on your tongue
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Thick and/or stringy saliva
  • Changed or decreased sensation of taste
  • Gum inflammation
  • Chronic, insatiable thirst

The Causes of Dry Mouth

There are causes of dry mouth. In many cases, xerostomia is a side effect of certain medications. Some of the most common drugs that cause dry mouth include antihistamines, anti-anxiety medications, anti-depressants, decongestants, and select pain medications. Patients who are undergoing chemotherapy are also likely to suffer from xerostomia. Dry mouth is not an inevitable consequence of aging. However, older patients are more likely to experience the condition since they are more likely to take prescription medications.

Dry mouth can also be caused by systemic health problems. These conditions include:

  • HIV/AIDS and other autoimmune diseases
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Stroke
  • Sleep apnea
  • Diabetes
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Anemia
  • Nerve damage that affects the salivary glands

Smoking and tobacco use is also a major cause of dry mouth.

Xerostomia Treatment Options

Treatment for your dry mouth will depend on the cause of your condition. In some cases, lifestyle changes are enough to treat dry mouth or, at the very least, minimize your discomfort. For example, drinking water throughout the day can supplement saliva production. In addition, you may want to avoid caffeine and alcohol, as these have a dehydrating effect. You could also try sleeping with a humidifier. Dr. Podilsky may be able to teach you breathing techniques that will reduce your symptoms. Of course, if you use tobacco, quitting smoking is one of the most important things you can do to eliminate dry mouth and improve your overall health.

If your dry mouth is the result of medications or other medical conditions, additional medical treatment may relieve your xerostomia. In some cases, your doctor may be able to switch your medications. If this is not possible, and if you do not respond to the lifestyle changes mentioned above, we may recommend additional medication. Certain drugs can boost saliva production. Additionally, artificial saliva can keep your mouth moist and comfortable.

The Importance of Dry Mouth Treatment

If you are suffering from the symptoms of dry mouth, you should seek treatment as soon as possible. Your saliva plays a vital role in your oral health, helping to wash away food and bacteria. When your body does not produce enough of this liquid, you face a much higher risk for dental decay and gum disease. Additionally, dry mouth treatment can improve your comfort, digestion, and sense of taste.

Find Out Which Treatment Is Right for You

To learn more about dry mouth and to find out the most appropriate treatment, contact Dr. Nathaniel Podilsky today.