Dry mouth, which is also called xerostomia, is a condition impacting the salivary glands. In patients with dry mouth, the salivary glands produce insufficient volumes of saliva.
While you may not think about it often, saliva is essential for digestion and oral health. It softens the foods that you eat so that they can be effectively processed by the digestive system. Saliva also acts as an important line of defense against tooth decay and gum disease. This illustrates that while dry mouth itself isn’t a major medical concern, it can lead to significant oral health problems.
Understanding dry mouth can help you avoid its causes and receive proper treatment if you experience this oral condition.
What Are the Symptoms of Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth can lead to symptoms including:
- Sensation of being parched/dryness in the mouth
- Cracked lips
- Cracked inner lining of the lips and cheeks
- Dry throat
- Bad breath
- Taste disorders
- Oral fungal infections
- Increased urge to drink water
- Trouble chewing and swallowing
- Sticky or stringy saliva
What Causes Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth may stem from many different factors. Commonly, it’s caused by dehydration. It also often occurs as a side effect of other conditions, including diabetes. Other potential causes of dry mouth include:
- Stress and anxiety
- Marijuana use
- Tranquilizer use
- Some medications, such as antidepressants, antihistamines, and appetite suppressants
- Radiation therapy of the neck or head
- The natural aging process
How Is Dry Mouth Treated?
Treatment for dry mouth will depend on the underlying cause. One of the first things that will be checked is whether you’re taking medications that can cause dry mouth. If so, your doctor may prescribe another drug that less commonly causes dry mouth or change the dose.
To treat dry mouth, you may also be prescribed medication to stimulate saliva production. Cevimeline and pilocarpine are two medications known to boost saliva production.
Proper oral hygiene, including daily brushing and flossing and regular cleanings from your dentist, can also help prevent dry mouth. Contact Lowry & Obrochta Dentistry today to schedule your next appointment.