Dry mouth, also called xerostomia, is a condition that results from a decreased volume of saliva in the mouth. As many as 10% of all people experience dry mouth, and the condition tends to be more prevalent in women than men. Whether your dry mouth is a side effect of a certain medication, the result of aging, or is simply caused by dehydration, dry mouth is incredibly uncomfortable, and when severe, can significantly decrease a person’s quality of life. Read on to learn more about xerostomia, what causes dry mouth and La Mesa Hills Dentistry can help. 

Dry mouth is more than just feeling thirsty. Xerostomia can make it difficult to speak, eat, and digest food and when severe, can even lead to permanent mouth and throat disorders. Here are some key things to know about dry mouth:

  • Dry mouth results from the underproduction of saliva
  • Dry mouth is commonly a side effect of medications
  • Dry mouth is most prevalent in older adults
  • Symptoms of dry mouth include cracked lips, bad breath, and sticky saliva
  • Individuals with dry mouth should avoid spicy foods and sugary drinks

Dry mouth results from an inadequate flow of saliva. It is not a disease, but a symptom of a medical disorder or a side effect of certain medications, such as antihistamines, decongestants, pain killers, diuretics and others. More than 400 types of medications can cause dry mouth, including non-prescription drugs for allergies and cold symptoms, and many prescription drugs for high blood pressure, overactive bladder, and mental health issues. You can also get dry mouth after some medical treatments such as cancer radiation, which can hurt the glands that make saliva, or chemotherapy treatments. Some conditions, such as diabetes, can also affect saliva production and lead to dry mouth.

Some of the other causes of dry mouth include:

  • Dehydration
  • Aging
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Smoking tobacco or marijuana
  • Taking tranquilizers
  • Breathing through your mouth
  • Botulism poisoning
  • Some autoimmune disorders, such as Sjögren’s syndrome

While dry mouth has many causes, disorders of saliva production most frequently affect elderly people and those who are taking prescription and non-prescription medications. Because it affects saliva production, dry mouth can have a significant impact on your oral health. Saliva is the mouth’s primary defense against tooth decay and maintains the health of the soft and hard tissues in the mouth. Saliva offers first-line protection against microbial invasion by washing away food and other debris, neutralizing acids produced by bacteria in the mouth and providing disease-fighting substances throughout the mouth. Saliva is also important in that it helps you taste food and drinks and aids in digestion. 

When you experience dry mouth (xerostomia) your mouth is making very little saliva, if any at all. You may feel a constant sore throat or a burning sensation, and may have hoarseness of voice and dry nasal passages. You may also experience trouble speaking or difficulty swallowing. Xerostomia can make it difficult to eat and digest food, in some cases even leading to malnutrition. When severe, it can lead to permanent mouth and throat disorders, and can produce significant anxiety, impairing a person’s quality of life.

Without adequate saliva, serious problems to your oral health can occur, including extensive tooth decay. If you suffer from xerostomia (dry mouth) your dentist may be able to recommend various methods to restore moisture and increase salivary production. At La Mesa Hills Dentistry, Dr.Fjeldsted and his staff will work with you to identify solutions that can help you to increase saliva production, decrease the effects of dry mouth, and improve your oral and overall health. Some of our patients find that sugar-free candy or gum can stimulate saliva flow, helping to decrease dry mouth. For others, an effective solution might be using artificial saliva and oral rinses. For safe, effective relief of dry mouth symptoms, we recommend our patients use products with the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

If you are suffering from dry mouth, it’s important to know that your dentist can help. At La Mesa Hills Dentistry, we are here to help you with your oral health, so you can live your best life possible. We are open, and serving our community in accordance with all local, state, and federal health guidelines. Please give us a call at 619-469-2902, or contact us here, to set up your next appointment. We look forward to seeing your smile again soon!