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Dry Mouth

4 Common Causes of Dry Mouth (xerostomia) and What Can Be Done About It

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No matter how much water I drink, my mouth is always dry. I work out a lot and sweat, but I don’t think that’s causing it. I don’t drink coffee or alcohol. It seems that I have to suck on cough drops all day just to keep some moisture in my mouth. I hate that because of the sugar in the cough drops, but I don’t want chemical sweetener either. What’s causing my dry mouth? Thanks. Katia


Dry mouth occurs when your salivary glands don’t work properly and the amount of saliva in your mouth is decreased.

What are some of the causes of dry mouth?

  • Prescription medication – This is the most common cause of dry mouth. More than 400 prescription medications can contribute to dry mouth. Some of them are antihistaimes, antidpressants, antihypertensives, painkillers, diuretics, and tranquilizers. Check the list of common side effects for your medication to see if it may contribute to decreased saliva production.
  • Radiation therapy or chemotherapy – Radiation therapy—particularly to in the areas of the head and neck—can damage salivary glands and result in a decrease of saliva production. The glands may partially recover in about a year after the therapy is complete. Some types of chemotherapy can damage salivary glands. Glands often recover in about three months after chemotherapy ends.
  • Hormonal changes – Hormonal changes and the medication taken to combat them can result in decreased salivary flow.
  • Diseases such as AIDS, Sjögren’s Syndrome, and diabetes can affect the salivary glands and decrease saliva production. Alzhiemer’s disease and stroke patients may also experience dry mouth.

Dry mouth and your oral health

Decreased saliva can make speaking, chewing, and swallowing more difficult. Saliva reduces the amount of cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth and helps prevent tooth decay. It also keeps oral tissue healthy. Without saliva, your teeth will decay faster, and you will be more likely to lose teeth. Your teeth will need to be restored with composite fillings, dental crowns, or dental implants.

If you are experiencing dry mouth, pay close attention to the symptoms associated with it, and tell your dentist about it. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. You can also chew sugar-free gum. Your dentist may prescribe mouth rinse or saliva-producing medication.

Remember that persistent dry mouth should not be ignored.

This post is sponsored by Naperville dentist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

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