Dry mouth is when salivary glands don’t produce a normal amount of saliva to lubricate the tissues of your mouth. When the mouth is too dry, teeth are more susceptible to decay, lips are more likely to dry, and sores or ulcers can develop in the mouth. There are many causes contributing to dry mouth, many of which are connected to side effects of medication.
Dry mouth can be triggered in a number of ways:
- There are hundreds of medicines that have documented dry mouth as a known side effect. Speak to your doctor to switch to another medicine that doesn’t produce the same effects.
- Dehydration is also linked directly to dry mouth. High intensity exercise or water loss through expulsion of bodily fluids (like diarrhea) are temporary. Dehydration may or may not be treatable simply by drinking more water.
- Infection of the glands can reduce the amount of saliva produced. A doctor can prescribe antibiotics for resolving infection.
- Mouth breathing, either through habit or because of compromised nasal passages and sinuses, will speed up evaporation of moisture in the mouth. Consider speaking to your doctor who will recommend a regimen for recurrent stuffy noses.
- Some other causes are more complicated to treat, such as Sjogren’s syndrome, obstructions blocking salivary flow, compromised nerve endings in the face, AIDS, cerebral palsy, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, hormonal changes, and lupus.
There are dental care products designed for people who suffer from dry mouth. Look for toothpaste and mouthwash that provide temporary relief. There are also prescription substitutes that wet the mouth to be used under a doctor’s supervision.
Non-medical prevention measures
You can encourage the production of saliva by monitoring your diet.
- Drink water and eat foods with high water content, such as fruit and vegetables or soup.
- Chewing triggers the mouth into salivating, so chewy foods and gum will get your glands going.
- Smoking, drinking, caffeinated drinks, and spicy foods actually increase dry mouth. If you’re thirsty, drink water instead of coffee.
Addressing the symptoms
Dry mouth may not be completely resolved by medication and diet. There are steps to take to relieve the effects:
- Chapped lips will be soothed using dedicated balms or chapstick.
- Take care in oral health to prevent tooth decay.
- Reduce your sugar intake to protect teeth and gums.
- Soft foods will aggravate mouth ulcers less, unlike brittle or hard foods.