Dry Mouth, Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

dry desert

Dry Mouth is medically known as Xerostomia. In this condition, there is a decrease in the saliva flow to the mouth. Saliva is produced by three glands, the parotid, submandibular, and sublingual. There are different conditions that will affect the production of our saliva. Saliva is essential to our oral and overall health.

Saliva Functions

  1. Starts the digestion process with enzymes
  2. Washes away food debris
  3. Neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth that cause decay and periodontal disease
  4. Disease fighter
  5. Protects against tooth decay
  6. Protects the soft and hard tissues of our mouth

Symptoms of Dry Mouth

  1. Constant sore throat
  2. Burning sensation, especially on the tongue
  3. Dry or red tongue
  4. Constantly thirsty
  5. Trouble speaking
  6. Difficulty swallowing
  7. Hoarseness
  8. Dry nasal passages
  9. Bad breath
  10. Swelling or pain in jaw upon eating
  11. Increase in cavities (dental caries)
  12. Periodontal disease

Associated Medical Conditions

  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Yeast infections
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Sjogren Syndrome-an autoimmune disease that attacks moisture-producing glands
  • Open mouth breathing-especially at night, which coincides with snoring and sleep apnea
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Salivary stone – sialolithiasis (stones form from a build-up of Potassium, Calcium in the ducts that carry the saliva from the glands into the mouth. These stones greatly inhibit saliva flow)
  • Radiation therapy for cancer
  • Chemotherapy for cancer
  • Medications-diuretics, antihistamines, decongestants, painkillers, hypertensive medications
  • Obesity
  • Dehydration-not drinking enough water-conditions such as fever, excessive sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, blood loss and burns
  • Nerve damage from trauma to head and neck
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Mumps
  • Surgical removal of salivary glands
  • Psychogenic disorders such as anxiety and depression. This can affect the amount of saliva flow and also one’s perception as to whether their mouth is dry or not.

Remedies for Dry Mouth

  • Drink copious amount of water
  • Avoid medications that cause xerostomia if possible
  • Kick dehydrating habits
  • Suck sugarless sour candies (that contain xylitol)
  • Chew sugarless gum with xylitol
  • Use a humidifier
  • Increase oral home care
    • Brush with a soft brush, a non-abrasive fluoride toothpaste
    • Use non-alcoholic fluoride rinse i.e.Act or rinse that contains xylitol
    • Floss every night before going to sleep
  • Breath through nose-if snoring, come into 172 NYC Dental, and be tested for sleep apnea. With proper appliance that we construct snoring and mouth breathing will stop
  • Suck tart lemons
  • Eat moist foods
  • Decrease alcohol
  • Stop smoking
  • Loose weight
  • Exercise
  • Decrease salt consumption
  • Decrease sugar consumption
  • Decrease acidic foods
  • Decrease spicy foods
  • Apply moisturizer on lips
  • Over the counter -Biotene toothpaste, Mouthwash (made specifically for dry mouth)
  • Dental appointment for proper diagnosis i.e. if the stone in the duct, prescription medication such as pilocarpine, or cevimeline. Listening to patient’s complaints. Measuring saliva flow in the mouth. On rare occasions taking biopsies of salivary glands.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy

Call for an Appointment with 172 NYC Dental

Dry Mouth is not thought of as a disease. It is more a result, a consequence of external factors. These factors are usually medications, radiation therapy, or systemic disease. This condition can be annoying and discomforting but in itself is not dangerous. Our biggest concern is the rapid increase in caries (cavities) throughout the mouth. Following the guidelines above will allow for successful management of xerostomia. If you are experiencing dry mouth symptoms please do not hesitate to make an appointment at 172 NYC Dental where our experienced staff can diagnose you properly and treat your problem with great care and efficiency. Call us at 646-921-5541 to make an appointment today. 

About Dr. Benjamin Ahn

Meet Dr. Benjamin Ahn, a top-rated general, and cosmetic dentist and one of the best Invisalign dentist practicing at 209 NYC Dental, a multi-specialty dental practice in Midtown East Manhattan.

Questions? Contact us online or give us a call at 646-921-5541 today!
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