Get Answers: “Why Is My Mouth So Dry?”

Monday, April 23, 2018
Get Answers: “Why Is My Mouth So Dry?”

It’s very likely due to more than just nerves…

Have you recently had occasion to ask yourself, “Why is my mouth so dry?” This question likely indicates a decrease of saliva in your mouth.

It might feel like a mere annoyance, but your symptoms may point to an underlying problem. Dry mouth, or xerostomia, can be caused by several factors. Depending on the “why” behind your condition, different remedies may be proposed by your doctor. Read on to learn about different dry mouth causes and how to address them.

First of All, Why Does It Even Matter?

Why should the state of your saliva concern you so much? The answer is that saliva plays an important role in promoting oral health. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, saliva has a variety of functions including:

  • Aiding in food digestion.
  • Keeping your mouth clean.
  • Guarding against tooth decay.

Dry mouth may make it hard for you to speak, chew, and swallow. Your food may taste different and you may experience a sore throat, hoarseness, and bad breath. If these sound like the symptoms you are experiencing, please visit a dentist for an evaluation!

Dry Mouth Causes

Medication

why is my mouth so dryDry mouth occurs when the salivary glands aren’t working properly. The American Dental Association estimates that there are more than 500 medications that contribute to xerostomia. High blood pressure medications, antidepressants, antihistamines, diuretics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, narcotics, and amphetamines are examples of the types of medications that lead to dry mouth.

Disorders and mental health

Other causes include nervousness, stress, depression, cancer therapy, and certain autoimmune disorders, such as Sjorgren’s syndrome. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease also often lead to dehydration, increasing risk for dry mouth.

Life factors

During pregnancy or breastfeeding, women may experience dry mouth due to hormonal changes. Trauma, nerve damage, aging, cancer therapy, and smoking can be risk factors as well.

Fungal infection

A fungal infection in your mouth may indicate an associated, underlying disorder such as HIV, Addison’s disease, or diabetes. A burning sensation on your tongue and dark plaque are symptoms of a fungal infection.

Dry Mouth Remedies

A dentist is essential for developing a management and treatment plan for xerostomia. At your appointment, the dentist will inspect the glands and ducts and measure salivary flow. The lips, oral tissues, and tongue will be checked for dryness. Depending on the dentist’s findings and your medical history, you may be referred to a doctor for testing or put on a temporary treatment plan.

There are several ways that one can personally manage the symptoms of dry mouth:

  • Drink more water. Drinking more water with greater frequency throughout the day will replenish your mouth. Sucking ice cubes can also be helpful.
  • Some mouthwashes can help. Be sure to avoid mouthwash that contains alcohol, as this will only worsen the problem. Artificial OTC saliva substitutes and oral lubricants that contain glycerin can provide relief.
  • Chew gum. But make sure it is sugar-free, because otherwise you will place yourself at increased risk for tooth decay.
  • Take a prescription medication. Your doctor may prescribe medications to encourage salivary flow, but these are contraindicated for people with glaucoma and asthma.
  • Use a prescription toothpaste. A dry oral environment puts you at risk for a variety of dental problems, such as fungal infection, tooth decay, and periodontitis. A prescription toothpaste containing higher amounts of calcium, fluoride, and phosphate will protect and remineralize your teeth.

Find Out Why Your Mouth Is So Dry

Whether you’re only experiencing dry mouth at night or it’s 24/7, if it’s enough of a bother for you to read this article, we recommend seeing a professional. Penn Dental Family Practice can help you to discover the cause of your dry mouth and take measures to control and treat it. Remember, whatever the cause, dry mouth can have negative effects on your health and your wallet down the line. Even if you know the cause already, it’s worth getting a professional opinion so that you will be equipped to prevent tooth decay and other dental problems.

To make an appointment for a dry mouth evaluation, please call PDFP today at 215-898-7337.