Dry Mouth: What You Need to Know

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Have you ever had a dry mouth? It can be irritating. After all, a dry mouth can make it difficult to swallow and difficult to speak. But what about chronic dry mouth, or xerostomia? It’s important to recognize what chronic dry mouth is, be able to identify causes and side effects, and understand what treatment options are available.


What causes dry mouth?

There are many possible causes of dry mouth:

  • Medications: Over 400 commonly prescribed medications list “dry mouth” as a possible side effect
  • Dehydration
  • Cancer treatment: Radiation and chemotherapy can cause temporary dry mouth and in some cases permanent damage to the salivary glands, leading to chronic dry mouth.
  • Autoimmune disease: Sjogren’s syndrome, HIV, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus
    Diabetes

Side effects of dry mouth

The side effects of dry mouth may include:

  • Burning sensation in the mouth
  • Mouth sores
  • Cracked lips
  • Halitosis (aka bad breath)
  • Cavities
  • Yeast infections
  • Gingivitis

When chronic dry mouth goes untreated, over time it can become difficult to taste, swallow and even speak. Also, without adequate saliva to rinse your mouth of food and plaque, gingivitis can set in. Left untreated, gingivitis can lead to tooth loss.

Treatment options

Dry mouth can often be alleviated by treating underlying conditions and restoring saliva production. For medication-induced dry mouth, changing medications can help. In other cases, saliva production can be increased through a variety of means: moisturizing gels, special toothpastes and mouthwashes and prescription medications.

Staying hydrated, chewing sugar-free gum and sucking on sugar-free candies are a few other easy options for keeping your mouth lubricated. 

If you’re serious about combating dry mouth, avoid smoking and alcohol consumption and stay away from salty, dry and sugary foods.

If you’re dealing with dry mouth, schedule an appointment with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff. They can help you get to the root of the problem, experience relief and protect your smile. Call our office at 651.482.8412!

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