Dry mouth, also called xerostomia, happens when your body doesn’t have enough moisture in the oral cavity. The saliva glands in your mouth aren’t able to generate enough saliva for your mouth to stay moist, as it’s meant to be.
The causes of dry mouth are numerous, and this condition can affect your smile if not addressed. Teeth that aren’t protected by saliva can be more subject to the bacteria that cause tooth decay. What could be causing your dry mouth, and what can you do about it?
There are hundreds of different medications that can cause dry mouth. These medications are used to treat high blood pressure, pain, depression, and may also include over-the-counter medications such as allergy antihistamines and cold medicines such as decongestants .
However, medications for urinary incontinence have been shown to have the highest risk for causing dry mouth in patients . If your medication is causing your dry mouth, you can talk to your doctor about alternatives, but if alternatives aren’t possible, be sure to drink plenty of water and follow up with your dentist regularly.
Some people experience dehydration and aren’t aware of it. Your body needs an adequate amount of water to function every day; without proper hydration, you may experience short- term symptoms such as a headache and long-term effects such as decreased kidney function.
Adults older than 60 are more at risk for dehydration, but so are people who are not drinking enough water and in hot weather, exercising, or people who have recently experienced vomiting or diarrhea . While mild dehydration can usually be remedied by drinking more water, severe dehydration requires emergency medical treatment.
Certain Medical Conditions
Some medical conditions can make dry mouth more likely, including diabetes. Diabetes can cause you to have limited saliva production, which can increase your risk for tooth decay and gum disease .
Uncontrolled diabetes can also lead to increased urination, which can contribute to dehydration and also lead to try mouth. Other types of medical conditions that may contribute to dry mouth include Sjogren’s syndrome, HIV, rheumatoid arthritis, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
What You Can Do
Living with chronic dry mouth can put your oral cavity at higher risk for tooth decay and gum disease. You can, of course, drink more water throughout the day, but it’s important to understand the cause of your dry mouth so you can work to remedy the issue.
In addition to talking to your doctor about your medications, you should also consider dehydration as the cause, and if you’re at higher risk for dry mouth due to any medical conditions you may have.
It’s also imperative to visit your dentist regularly. Since dry mouth can have negative effects on the oral cavity, ensuring your teeth and gums are healthy can help protect your teeth against cavities or gum disease.
Although dry mouth isn’t fun to live with, you can still have a healthy smile and take the best care of your body by knowing your risk for dry mouth and working to minimize the effects!