Why do I have dry mouth?

Dry mouth can impact how a person can eat, speak, swallow, chew, and smile. Saliva helps facilitate several functions and cleanses the oral cavity. Dry mouth is caused when the salivary glands in the mouth don’t make enough saliva. This may occur as a side effect of medication, health disorders, aging, alcohol and tobacco use, or cancer treatment.

Saliva lessens the effect of acids produced by bacteria that can cause dental cavities. Saliva buffers the pH in the mouth, making a more neutral environment. Saliva also washes away food and provides disease-fighting substances as a first-line protection against bacterial growth that can cause gum disease. Saliva is your body’s natural way of cleaning your mouth.

Signs of a dry mouth include:

  • Trouble speaking
  • Difficulty swallowing or chewing
  • Decreased since of taste
  • Wake up during the night due to thirst or a dry mouth
  • Dryness or a feeling of stickiness in your mouth
  • Saliva that seems thick and stringy
  • Dry or sore throat
  • Burning sensation
  • Hoarseness
  • Problems wearing dentures
  • Bad breath
  • Often feel thirsty

Treatment of Dry Mouth. Symptoms of a dry mouth can be relieved in many ways, depending on the cause behind the problem, so it is best to receive individual advice and treatment from your dental professional. If you have chronic dry mouth from a medication you are taking, you will need to talk to your healthcare provider about switching the medication or other ways to mitigate these side effects.

The quality of life can be altered because of dry mouth. Here are some tips to relieve dry mouth.

  • Sugar-free chewing gum or hard candies can stimulate salivary flow.
  • Drink water with meals to help chew and swallow food.
  • Use alcohol-free mouthwash, as alcohol can exacerbate dry mouth.
  • Use a moisturizing/lubricating mouth spray or gel.
  • Use lip balm to soothe cracked or dry lips.

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