Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is more common than you might think, with 10 to 26% of men and 10 to 33% of women experiencing the condition. Dry mouth is often brushed off as an annoyance, but it can negatively impact your daily life and oral health.

Understanding its causes, from medications to specific health conditions, can help you find and implement effective remedies and lifestyle changes to help manage dry mouth. Learn the causes of dry mouth and explore solutions to alleviate this uncomfortable condition and improve your quality of life.

Common Causes of Dry Mouth

Dry mouth occurs when your salivary glands don’t create enough saliva. This condition can lead to difficulty tasting, chewing, swallowing, and speaking. It can increase the risk of dental decay, gum disease, and mouth infections.

Several factors contribute to dry mouth, including:

  • Medications. Medications are a common reason behind dry mouth, with numerous prescription and over-the-counter drugs listing it as a side effect. These can range from antihistamines and decongestants to painkillers, antidepressants, and medications for high blood pressure and anxiety.
  • Aging. The body’s production of saliva tends to decrease with age. This reduction can be exacerbated by the cumulative effects of health conditions common in older adults, such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and Sjögren’s syndrome, as well as the increased use of medications that can cause dry mouth as a side effect.
  • Medical treatments. Medical treatments, particularly radiation therapy targeted at the head and neck, and certain chemotherapy drugs can impact salivary gland function, leading to dry mouth. These treatments can damage the salivary glands, reducing their ability to produce saliva, causing discomfort, and increasing the risk of dental health issues.
  • Lifestyle factors. Habits such as smoking or chewing tobacco can reduce saliva production, exacerbating dry mouth symptoms. Additionally, frequent alcohol consumption and mouth breathing, especially during sleep, can further dry out the mouth.

Remedies for Dry Mouth

While it’s essential to address the underlying cause of dry mouth with a healthcare provider, several remedies can help relieve symptoms, including:

  • Stay hydrated. Drink ample water during the day to maintain saliva flow. This is vital for moistening and cleansing the mouth, aiding digestion, and preventing tooth decay and infections. If you find water too bland, adding a slice of lemon or cucumber can enhance the flavor, making it easier to increase fluid intake and keep dry mouth at bay.
  • Improve your oral care routine. Improving your oral care routine can help manage dry mouth. Brush your teeth twice daily using fluoride toothpaste and floss daily to get rid of plaque and food particles, and use a mouthwash designed for dry mouth containing ingredients like xylitol, glycerin, and Cetylpyridinium Chloride (CPC).
  • Use humidifiers. By adding moisture to the air, humidifiers help prevent the dryness that contributes to discomfort and oral health issues associated with reduced saliva production. Place a humidifier in your bedroom at night to help keep your throat and mouth moist while you sleep, improving overall comfort and reducing the risk of waking up with a dry mouth.
  • Chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free candies. Chewing gum or sucking on candies can be an effective remedy for dry mouth, as these actions stimulate saliva production, helping to moisten the mouth and alleviate discomfort. Opt for sugar-free options, as sugar can contribute to tooth decay, especially in a dry mouth environment where saliva’s protective effects are reduced.
  • Consider saliva stimulants. For individuals experiencing severe dry mouth, saliva stimulants, also known as sialogogues, can be beneficial. These medications are designed to increase saliva production, offering relief from the discomfort and oral health issues associated with dry mouth. They are available in various forms, including pills, lozenges, and mouth sprays, and work by triggering the salivary glands to produce more saliva.

Schedule Your Dental Check-Up Today!

Manage dry mouth with regular dental check-ups at the Aurora Dental Group. These visits allow your dentist to closely monitor your oral health, catching and treating any early signs of tooth decay or gum disease that dry mouth could intensify.

Plus, you’ll benefit from deep cleanings to eliminate plaque and tartar, along with customized tips and treatments like specialized mouthwashes and oral care strategies designed to tackle your dry mouth.

Contact our practice to schedule your check-up and get the customized dental care your smile deserves!