What Is Dry Mouth and How Is It Treated?

Oct 03, 2023
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Many things affect your dental health, including your teeth, gums, jaw, and how much saliva your mouth produces. Dry mouth increases your risk of dental issues, so let’s learn more about this common condition.

The mouth is where digestion begins, and that process involves breaking food into smaller pieces with your teeth and jaw, making it easier to break down further as it moves through your digestive tract. 

Another essential ingredient is your saliva, produced by your salivary glands.

Dry mouth increases your risk of tooth decay and other dental problems. Let's find out more about this condition and how it can affect you.

If you live in Richmond Hill, Georgia, and are struggling with dry mouth or other dental issues, Dr. Nils Anderson and our skilled medical staff at Village Dental can help.

Understanding dry mouth

Saliva is a colorless, thick liquid produced in the mouth. It is made up of water, mineral salts, mucus, proteins, and amylase that collects bacteria, debris, and white blood cells, as well as keeping our teeth, gums, and other dental tissue moist for chewing and digestion. It is produced in your salivary glands on either side of your tongue, below your jaw, and in front of your ears. 

When dealing with dry mouth, your salivary glands can’t produce enough saliva to perform its essential functions. It can range from an annoyance to a significant dental health issue.

Symptoms and causes

Common signs of dry mouth include difficulty swallowing, chewing, or speaking, problems tasting what you ingest, a burning sensation, dry tongue, mouth sores, dry throat, and bad breath. 

There are several causes of dry mouth, such as: 

  • Dehydration 
  • Smoking 
  • Drug use 
  • Mouth breathing 
  • Snoring 
  • Stress 
  • Anxiety 
  • Radiation therapy 
  • Certain medications 
  • Aging 

Medical conditions with dry mouth as a symptom include diabetes, nerve damage, oral thrush, cystic fibrosis, autoimmune conditions, and Alzheimer's disease.

Prevention and treatment

Managing this issue depends on the cause of your dry mouth. That said, it often includes addressing the underlying conditions. It can also be treated by switching medications, drinking water before taking medications, taking liquid medications or easy-to-swallow pills, and avoiding some over-the-counter drugs (decongestants and antihistamines). 

You might be prescribed certain medications to increase the production of saliva.

To help promote natural saliva production, try sucking on ice cubes, sugarless gum, using toothpaste and mouthwash designed for dry mouth, or a cool mist humidifier if you sleep with your mouth open. Also, avoid alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks, and mouthwashes with alcohol.

Dry mouth is generally a sign of a medical issue. Fortunately, most are treatable. Make an appointment with Dr. Anderson and our team at Village Dental today to treat dry mouth and improve your dental health.