What Causes Chronic Dry Mouth and How to Treat It

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Is your mouth feeling like sandpaper? The Sahara Desert? Stale bread? A dry mouth can be uncomfortable and bothersome, and while it happens to all of us once in a while, some folks experience dry mouth as a chronic condition, called Xerostomia.

You might not know it, but saliva is more important than you think. Your body produces saliva to fight off bad bacteria in the mouth and other germs that can wreak havoc on your gums and teeth. Chronic dry mouth happens when not enough saliva is produced, so the pesky bacteria and infections it can typically keep at bay can breed, making it difficult to maintain a healthy mouth.

Not sure if your mouth lacks in the saliva department? Symptoms of a chronic dry mouth include things like frequent thirst, sores or split skin on the lips, a dry throat, a red or raw tongue, trouble with swallowing, chewing or speaking and bad breath. If you are experiencing any of these, make a point to visit your dentist to rule out chronic dry mouth.

Causes

If you’ve been diagnosed with chronic dry mouth, you might be wondering how. There are plenty of misconceptions about what causes dry mouth, but we’ve narrowed it down to the three causes you need to look out for.

Prescription Medications

We’re not talking Aspirin or Tylenol, rather prescription medications that are given by your doctor. Currently, 7 in every 10 adult Americans are on a prescription medication. That’s 223.2 million people.

Prescription medications have helped a lot of people and cured illness, but most prescription medications have known side effects. Believe it or not, out of the thousands of prescription medications that exist, there are nearly 500 that list dry mouth as a common side effect. Be sure to check with your doctor before getting prescribed a medication and know what the side effects are and if there’s an option for a medication that doesn’t have dry mouth as one.

Certain Disorders or Diseases

Sometimes chronic dry mouth isn’t a stand-alone case. Many diseases list dry mouth as a symptom. Sjogren’s Syndrome, Diabetes, Hypertension, Alzheimer’s Disease and Cystic Fibrosis are among the illnesses that can cause dry mouth. Dry mouth can be both a symptom of these disorders, but can also be related to the treatments. If you are experiencing dry mouth and you feel it is out of the ordinary, make a point to see your dentist and doctor to rule out anything serious.

Not Enough Fluids

This might be an obvious one, but if you’re not hydrating properly, chances are your mouth feels incredibly dry. Plain and simple- drink more fluids, specifically water. Make sure you are getting the recommended amount of water each day and make it a habit. If you’ve recently been sick with a stomach bug or a high fever, make sure you replenish your fluids with extra water. A good rule of thumb is your urine being a very pale shade of yellow- not quite clear.

 

Treatment Options

Starting with the apparent, drink more water and have a water bottle handy at all times. Take sips often. If water isn’t your thing, try a sugar-free option like seltzer water or flavored water and make sure to avoid sodas and most juices. Anything that is acidic will create thirst.

Keep sugar-free hard candies and sugar-free gums readily available to help aid your mouth in producing more saliva. While it’s not ideal to do this all day, every day, having it on hand for when you need it most will help keep bacteria at bay.

Humidifiers are easy ways to keep the air moist in your home. When you go to sleep, turn the humidifier on to create an environment that’s ideal for sleeping and your mouth health.

As a last-ditch effort, talk to your dentist about rinses and mouthwashes that help with dry mouth and killing bacteria that it may create. These rinses are specifically made for those who struggle with chronic dry mouth.

 

If you think you may be experiencing chronic dry mouth, make sure you schedule an appointment with our seasoned experts at West Chester Dental. We’ll get you taken care of and on your way to your healthiest mouth yet!