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What’s Dry Mouth All About?

Having a dry mouth every so often is no reason to be concerned. But when it is chronic (a condition known as xerostomia), you need to consult with a dentist so we can get to the bottom of its cause.

man drinking water

Dry mouth can be a sign of a serious condition!

The Bottom Line – Causes of Dry Mouth

We all know that feeling of dry mouth we get when we’re nervous, like when we have to give a speech or we’re upset. Dry mouth under those conditions is pretty normal and the reason why you usually see a glass of water at a podium or on a dais. But what about chronic dry mouth…the kind where you feel parched all the time?

This condition occurs when you can’t produce the right amount of saliva to keep your mouth wet. Certain medications (more than 400, in fact) list “dry mouth” as a possible side effect, diseases (e.g., HIV, Parkinson’s, diabetes), chemo and radiation therapies, eating disorders, and nerve damage – all are possible causes of dry mouth.

Can Dry Mouth Cause Other Problems?

You bet it can! Dry mouth can increase your risk for gum disease or gingivitis. It can also cause your teeth to decay, resulting in cavities, and it makes it especially difficult to chew and swallow your food!

Can Dry Mouth Be Treated?

When you eliminate some of the conditions that cause dry mouth, it usually goes away. So say, for example, you are taking a medication that lists dry mouth as a possible side effect. Ask your doctor for a different medication, or wait it out for a few weeks, because often, dry mouth will disappear over time. An oral rinse may also help to alleviate dry mouth.

Other treatments? Try sucking on sugar-free candy or chewing sugar-free gum, staying well hydrated with lots of water, breathing through your nose (not your mouth!), lowering your caffeine intake, avoiding tobacco and alcohol, or running a humidifier to keep the air around you moist.

You Need Expert Advice

Since chronic dry mouth is not normal, you need to consult a dentist if it becomes a chronic condition and you just can’t figure it out. Call a participating dentist near you who will carefully review your medical record to get to the bottom of the problem and refer you to a specialist, if required.

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