Beware of Dry Mouth and its Complications

Understand dry mouth and how to treat it

We all experience a dry mouth from time to time. Dry mouth occurs when your mouth is dry because your salivary glands aren’t producing enough saliva to keep your mouth wet. Often, it occurs because you are on a specific medication. You can also experience it as a result of cancer-related radiation therapy. However, whatever the reason for your dry mouth, the chances are that it has been an unpleasant experience.

We’ve put together a list of some common questions related to a dry mouth so that you know what to look for and what to do if you have it.

4 Questions and Answers About Dry Mouth

If you are experiencing dry mouth, you know that you want to make the condition disappear. Check out the answers to 4 commonly asked questions about this annoying and frustrating condition.

1. What are the symptoms of dry mouth?

When your mouth isn’t producing enough saliva, you will likely experience some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Feeling of stickiness or dryness in your mouth.
  • Thick and strong saliva.
  • Halitosis (bad breath).
  • Difficulty speaking, swallowing, and chewing.
  • Sore throat or hoarseness.
  • Dry or grooved tongue.
  • Change in your sense of taste.
  • Dentures no longer seem to be fitting properly.
  • Lipstick sticking to your teeth.

2. What causes it?

Though we mentioned some of the typical causes of dry mouth, other situations can also cause this condition. Some of the causes of it include:

  • Prescription or non-prescription medications: Drugs used to treat anxiety, depression, pain, colds, allergies, asthma, acne, obesity, epilepsy, hypertension, nausea, diarrhea, psychotic disorders, incontinence, and Parkinson’s disease can also contribute to dry mouth. You may also experience a it if you regularly take a sedative or muscle relaxant.
  • Illness, diseases, and infections: This condition is a prevalent side effect of Alzheimer’s disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, mumps, or a stroke.
  • Medical treatments: Radiation treatments to the head and neck or chemotherapy treatments for cancer commonly cause this condition.
  • Dehydration: It can be easy to forget to drink enough water each day. The fact is, our bodies need water for many things, and one of those things is to keep your mouth properly moist. So if you are not properly hydrated, you may experience dry mouth.
  • Use of tobacco products: If you smoke, vape, or chew tobacco, dry mouth is common. If you use these products, be sure to stay properly hydrated. Even better, quit the use of tobacco products altogether.
  • Nerve damage: If you have experienced nerve damage to the head or neck area, your brain might not send enough messages to your body to keep your mouth hydrated.
  • Breathing with your mouth open: When you breathe with your mouth open, you often take in more air, which can dry out your mouth.

3. What are the complications?

When you have dry mouth, you are more likely to experience a variety of complications. Typical complications of it include the following.

  • Increased plaque, tooth decay, and gum disease.
  • Sores in your mouth or on your tongue.
  • Thrush (yeast infection in your mouth).
  • Cracked lips.
  • Sores or split skin at the corner of your mouth.
  • Problems chewing and swallowing.

4. What are the solutions for dry mouth?

Unfortunately, the only way to cure dry mouth is to change whatever is causing it in the first place. In some cases, however, this might not be possible. That said, there are things that you can do to relieve the symptoms and make your mouth more comfortable.

  • Drink more water: Experts recommend that adults consume about eight cups of water each day. And since only 20% of daily fluid intake comes from food, the chances are that you will need to make up the balance through glasses of water.
  • Ask your doctor about alternative medications: If your medications are the culprit for your dry mouth, ask your doctor if there are alternative medications that you can try.
  • Kick those bad habits: If you are a smoker or use tobacco products, now is the time to kick the habit.
  • Chew sugarless gum: Chewing gum naturally makes your mouth salivate, and thus can help with saliva production.
  • Suck on sugarless candies: Similar to chewing gum, candies can help create more saliva in your mouth. But since sugary sweets can contribute to tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease, stick to the sugarless options.
  • Revisit your oral hygiene routine: This condition can be related to poor oral hygiene. So, make sure you are brushing twice a day, flossing once per day, and rinsing daily with a fluoridated mouthwash.
  • Avoid breathing through your mouth: If you find yourself breathing through your mouth more than through your nose, take time to explore why that might be. If you are frequently breathing through your mouth, you might have a cold, allergies, or a sinus infection. Further, you may have a deviated septum and need corrective action.
  • Get a humidifier: If your home feels exceptionally dry, a humidifier can help create moisture in the environment.

Suffering from dry mouth? Visit your favorite family dentist in Greenville, SC.

​​If you are suffering from this condition, don’t hesitate to reach out to your family dentist to see how they can help. The team at Monroe Family Dentistry has a few tricks up their sleeves and may be able to provide specific recommendations to help you and your dry mouth. Request an appointment using our easy-to-use form or give our office a call. Then, add dry mouth to your checklist for your next dental visit to discuss with your dentist. We look forward to seeing you.