What Causes Dry Mouth?

Dry Mouth, called xerostomia, results from an inadequate flow of saliva, and is a symptom rather than a specific disorder.  Adequate salivary flow lubricates oral tissues, cleanses the mouth and begins the digestive process as foods are chewed. When salivary flow is reduced, harmful organisms grow in the mouth. Left untreated, dry mouth may lead to oral yeast infection, a burning sensation, rampant tooth decay, bad breath and other oral health problems. Chronic dry mouth can make swallowing difficult. Drying irritates the soft tissues, which can make them inflamed and more susceptible to infection. Without the cleansing and shielding effects of adequate salivary flow, tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease become more common. Constant dryness and the lack of protection provided by saliva contribute to bad breath. Dry mouth also causes dentures to become uncomfortable. Prescribed and over-the-counter medications are the most common cause of dry mouth.  These include antihistamines, decongestants, pain killers, diuretics, anti-hypertensives and anti-depressants. Dry mouth also may result from radiation treatment for head and neck cancers, salivary gland disease, emotional stress, and auto immune diseases.  Pregnancy and menopause have also been associated with dry mouth. Increasing fluid intake might alleviate dry mouth. Your dentist or physician may recommend using artificial saliva-available at local pharmacies to keep oral tissues moist. Other remedies include sugar-free gum or candy (to stimulate salivary flow); frequent sips of water; alcohol-free oral rinses; restricted intake of caffeine, alcohol and carbonated beverages.

P.S. Regular dental checkups are important, too. Taking good care of your teeth and gums is critical if you have dry mouth to minimize decay and periodontal disease. Brush and floss twice a day. Your dentist may recommend additional fluoride products to help control tooth decay. If you have specific questions about your dry mouth symptoms, we invite you to contact us at Aesthetic Dental Care of New Jersey for more information.


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