a couple flossing their teeth in the mirror

Causes of Dry Mouth

Team Oral Health

Experiencing dry mouth is an uncomfortable feeling. But what causes this common condition?

This frustrating issue can be caused by medications and health conditions. 

What is Dry Mouth?

Dry mouth, also called xerostomia, happens when your salivary glands produce less saliva than they should. Your mouth is filled with hundreds of small, minor salivary glands and three larger sets of salivary glands, all of which create saliva in your mouth. Dry mouth can make you feel uncomfortable, and cause trouble when speaking, chewing, or swallowing.

When you produce enough saliva, your mouth feels moist and comfortable, and you'll receive important health benefits too.

Having enough saliva provides the minerals that the enamel of your teeth need. Saliva also washed out food matter that can be stuck to gums and teeth, and supports both the soft tissue and hard tissue in your mouth, preventing cavities and gum disease, too. 

What Causes Dry Mouth?

Dry mouth can be caused by a number of different conditions or substances. After all, the systems that regulate your body are interconnected. Your salivary glands can be affected by any number of conditions or medications. 

Risk factors for dry mouth include:

  • Diabetes, Sjogren's syndrome, and other health conditions
  • Prescription medication
  • Over the counter medication 
  • Smoking, and any use of tobacco products
  • Alcohol use
  • Caffeine consumption
  • Radiation therapy
  • Age
  • Nerve damage
  • Anxiety

Dry Mouth Complications

Having a dry mouth is more than uncomfortable. With saliva so necessary to the health of your mouth, teeth, and gums, experiencing chronic dry can create:

  • Difficulty chewing, speaking, and swallowing
  • Tooth and root cavities
  • Gum disease such as gingivitis and periodontitis
  • Mouth sores
  • Cracked lips
  • Food and drinks tasting differently
  • Difficulty attaching dentures to gums 
  • Scratchy voice
  • Sore throat
  • Bad breath 

How to Prevent Dry Mouth

Because dry mouth can lead to other dental problems, preventing it is important. 

First of all, remember that anything that dehydrates your body increases the symptoms of dry mouth. You can decrease symptoms by hydrating well and drinking more water. 

Along with consuming more water, you should also:

  • Limit or avoid alcohol and caffeine
  • Avoid tobacco products and any illegal drugs
  • Brush and floss your teeth for two minutes twice a day, every day
  • Schedule a visit with your dental team twice annually to avoid issues
  • Consider alternatives to prescribed medication by consulting with your doctor

Treating Dry Mouth 

There are a number of techniques you can employ to treat dry mouth. These include:

  • Drink more water
  • Use a humidifier, which is particularly important when sleeping
  • Chew sugar-free gum 
  • Consume dairy products - these promote the production of saliva 
  • Consult with your dentist about artificial saliva products
  • Consult with your dentist about your whole health, and the benefits of holistic dentistry
  • Consult with your dentist about alcohol-free mouthwash, moisturizing gel and toothpaste
  • Choose products such as toothpaste, mouthwash, or water that contains fluoride, to help prevent cavities 

Do You Need Help with Dry Mouth?

If you want to learn more about dry mouth or you need help with dry mouth, we’re here. Just give us a call at Integrated Dentistry for more information or to schedule a consultation, today!