Feeling Constantly Parched? Causes Of Dry Mouth And What To Do About It
Dry mouth, also called xerostomia, makes it more difficult to keep your mouth healthy. It can lead to dry gums that are more likely to get inflamed and infected, as well as mouth sores. Saliva also helps keep your teeth clean and neutralizes acid between brushing sessions, so a lack of saliva can lead to tooth decay. Enzymes in your saliva also play an important role in digestion.
Common Causes of Dry Mouth
There are several things and conditions that can lead to dry mouth, and it's important to work with your dentist or doctor to identify what's causing your dry mouth symptoms in order to determine the best treatment.
Many prescription and over-the-counter medications can cause dry mouth. Check the inserts on any prescription medications you take to see if dry mouth or decreased saliva production is listed as a side effect. Many medications used to treat allergies, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, and muscle spasms or pain can cause dry mouth.
If you have cancer and are undergoing chemotherapy, dry mouth may be one of the symptoms you experience. Most of the time this is temporary and regular saliva production will return after you complete your treatment. In some cases, radiation therapy on the head can damage your salivary glands and cause a permanent reduction in saliva.
People with other health conditions may have dry mouth as another symptom of their condition. Diabetes, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer's disease, thrush and autoimmune diseases can all be underlying causes of dry mouth.
Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs
Smoking or chewing tobacco has many negative effects on your overall health, and it often causes dry mouth, especially in long-term users. Alcohol may increase symptoms as well. Marijuana use can temporarily cause dry mouth, and methamphetamine often leads to severe dry mouth, along with damage to the gums and teeth.
At-Home Treatments for Dry Mouth
If you experience dry mouth symptoms make sure to sip water throughout the day to stay hydrated and keep your mouth moist. Sucking on sugar-free candy can also help increase saliva production without damaging your teeth. Avoid breathing through your mouth, as the constant movement of air can increase dryness. Make sure your toothpaste contains fluoride to keep your teeth and gums healthy and consider adding a fluoride rinse to your daily oral hygiene routine. Use humidifiers throughout your home to keep the air moist, especially in your bedroom while you sleep.
Talking to Your Dentist or Physician
Make sure to talk to your dentist or doctor about your symptoms if at-home treatments don't alleviate your dry mouth symptoms. Even if you feel your mouth is moist, thick saliva, a sore throat, persistent hoarseness, trouble chewing or swallowing and gum irritation can all indicate something isn't right with your saliva production. Your dentist or health care provider will be able to help you identify what might be causing your symptoms and determine whether you need to switch medications, try an oral rinse or take prescription medication to increase your saliva production.