Dry mouth is an annoying condition that can have larger consequences if left untreated. Saliva plays an important role in digestion and your oral health. When your mouth does not produce enough saliva, it is harder for your body to digest food, and it does not function as well to protect your mouth from tooth decay.

What are the symptoms of dry mouth?

  • Dryness in mouth
  • Dryness in throat
  • Extreme thirst
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, or speaking
  • Diminished sense of taste
  • Dry, chapped, or cracked lips or corners of mouth
  • Headaches
  • Bad breath
  • Cough
  • Mouth sores
  • White tongue
  • Bleeding gums
  • Pale gums
  • Tooth decay

What causes dry mouth?

Dry mouth can be caused by many different things. It is a common side effect of many medications, including antihistamines, antidepressants, high blood pressure medications, narcotics, diuretics, and others; in fact, there are over 400 medications for which dry mouth is listed as a side effect. Dry mouth may also be caused by dehydration, salivary gland diseases, diabetes, sleep apnea, arthritis, certain autoimmune disorders, radiation treatments, smoking, anorexia, Parkinson’s, pregnancy, and more. As you can see, dry mouth can be caused by a wide variety of factors, so when you experience dry mouth, it is important to consult a medical professional to determine the cause.

How is dry mouth treated?

Dry mouth is treated in four different ways: preserving saliva, substituting saliva, stimulating saliva, and preventing infections.

  • Preserving saliva: To preserve saliva, there are certain behaviors to adopt. For example, breathe through the nose, and avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco. It may be helpful to also use a humidifier while sleeping.
  • Substituting saliva: The goal of substituting saliva is to supplement the moisture of the mouth. This can be done by drinking more water, sucking on ice chips, and mouthwashes specifically designed to help with dry mouth.
  • Stimulating saliva: To stimulate the production of saliva, try chewing gum or sucking on hard candies. However, opt for sugar-free versions, as sugar causes cavities.
  • Preventing infections: It is common to develop infections from dry mouth. To prevent infections, it is important to maintain meticulous oral hygiene. Adopting the use of a mouthwash and toothpaste with more fluoride will help. Regularly get dental cleanings from your Smithville dentist.

Dry mouth is irritating, but can help treated. When you experience dry mouth, come into your Smithville dentist for a dental cleaning, and we will help you determine the source of your dry mouth.