Dry mouth is a condition that an estimated 1 in 4 adults suffer from. Not only is it sometimes a symptom of a greater health problem, it can cause many oral health issues. So what exactly is dry mouth, what causes it, and what are its effects?

 

What is dry mouth?

It’s what it sounds like: the sufferer’s mouth is dry. This is because the salivary glands are not producing enough saliva to keep the mouth wet. Dry mouth can have the following symptoms

  • Sticky or dry feeling in mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Thick, stringy saliva
  • Sore or dry throat
  • Altered sense of taste
  • Grooved or dry tongue
  • Difficulty keeping dentures in place
  • Difficulty speaking, chewing or swallowing

 

Why is dry mouth a problem?

Dry mouth can cause a number of oral health issues because saliva neutralizes acids and washes away other harmful substances. Saliva also has protein and other components that help with tooth remineralization, which keeps teeth strong. A dry mouth can become a breeding ground for bacteria, which lead to cavities, thrush (oral yeast infection), increased plaque, mouth sores, and gum disease. Because it causes difficulty with chewing and swallowing food, sufferers may also suffer from malnutrition, if unable to eat certain types of food.

 

What causes dry mouth?

Dry mouth can be a side effect of certain medications or chemotherapy treatments – if you’re taking any medications and are experiencing dry mouth, check to see if this is a listed side effect. It can also occur with age or can be a hereditary condition. Dry mouth can also be symptomatic of a serious health concern, such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, autoimmune disorders, nerve damage, or strokes.  

Tobacco, alcohol, and drug use (particularly methamphetamine) can cause or increase dry mouth symptoms, as can more benign conditions such as thrush, mouth-breathing, and snoring. Temporary feelings of dry mouth, which can result from dehydration or stress, can also occur.

 

Dry mouth is more than just uncomfortable or inconvenient – it can be a sign of a serious condition and can cause oral health problems all on its own. Suffering in silence could lead to tooth decay, oral infections, gum disease, and more, and could be caused by a number of things. If you’re experiencing dry mouth, discuss your symptoms with a dentist to determine the cause of your dry mouth, and how best to treat it in order to avoid future oral health problems.

If you’re suffering from dry mouth, talk to a dentist today! Drs. Creason, Weber, Mountford & Ruszkowski would be happy to help you out.