From time to time, everyone gets a dry mouth. Dehydration, tension, or merely the usual decrease of saliva flow at night may trigger mouth dryness. Yet chronic dryness of the lips, a condition called Xerostomia, is a reason for worry.

Xerostomia happens when the salivary glands do not function properly. Salivary glands usually help your mouth stay wet by producing saliva. There are major health risks of a persistent loss of saliva. For one thing, feeding with a dry mouth may be difficult; it can also impair taste, chewing and swallowing. This could compromise your diet. Even for tooth loss, a dry mouth provides optimal conditions.

Possible Causes

Several things can cause dry mouth, including:

Medications: Medications are a consistent reason that people have dry mouth. The Surgeon General, upwards of 500 drugs (both prescribed and over-the-counter) have dry mouth as a side effect. Medications for allergies (antihistamines), medication used to remove the excess fluid in your body (diuretics) and some medications you take for depression can cause chronic dry mouth. Additionally, chemotherapy drugs have a drying effect.

Radiation Therapy: Head and neck radiation can affect salivary glands—sometimes indefinitely. However, radiation that’s used to kill cancer cells in other areas of the body would not cause Xerostomia.

Disease: Dry mouth may be caused by many general body or systemic disorders. For instance, some autoimmune disorders cause the body to destroy its own moisture-producing organs throughout the mouth and eyes. Other known conditions that may induce dry mouth include: Parkinson’s, diabetes, AIDS, and cystic fibrosis.

Nerve Damage: Often if you experience trauma to your head or neck, you can cause nerve damage that are valuable to the production of saliva.

Getting Relief

Often, if you’re using medicine on a regular basis, the doctor can either prescribe a replacement or change the dose to alleviate any dryness. Here are some additional things you can try:

Constantly sip water. Especially sip or drink water during meals. Ensure that any drink you’re consuming isn’t acidic and doesn’t have a lot of sugar. Drinking beverages that don’t have a lot of sugar or acid decreases your risk of decay.

Chew sugar-free gum. If your saliva glands aren’t damaged, chewing sugar-free gum can help your saliva glands produce saliva. Try to find a variety of gum that has Xylitol. Xylitol is a substitution for sugar that helps protect your teeth from decay!

Don’t drink or eat anything drying. Food that could be drying are crackers, nuts, toast, and spicy or salty foods. Drinks to avoid are alcoholic beverages and caffeinated drinks.

No Smoking. Smoking can cause your mouth to dry out and often create an increased risk of disease.

Start using a cool-mist humidifier. At night, keeping a cool mist humidifier running can help keep your mouth moist and keep you comfortable.

Find a saliva substitute or saliva stimulant. You can find an over-the-counter product that help your saliva glands produce or replace your saliva. Sometimes your doctor can prescribe a clinical strength product as well. We’re happy to help you with some recommendations!

Maintain regular oral hygiene. If you keep brushing your teeth twice daily with a toothpaste that has fluoride you can remove plaque and strengthen your teeth. Good overall hygiene is vital to keeping dry mouth at bay.

Getting a dental exam & teeth cleaning. Sometimes dry mouth can elevate your risk of tooth decay. It’s even more important to keep up your regular exam and cleaning schedule it you’re experiencing dry mouth. This also gives us an opportunity to find out what’s causing your symptoms and help prevent them.

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