Dry mouth – symptoms and treatments

Everyone feels like they have dry mouth once in a while. But when it happens often, it can seriously affect your dental health. This blog post will look at the symptoms and causes of dry mouth as well as the treatments and remedies.

What is dry mouth?

Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a condition where your mouth doesn’t make enough saliva. The condition is usually a result of ageing or certain medications. Saliva is important for your dental health because it neutralises acids, kills bacteria and washes away food particles. In addition, saliva facilitates chewing and talking. Therefore, it’s easy to see why dry mouth can have a major impact on your dental health. If your mouth doesn’t make enough saliva, then you become more susceptible to problems such as cavities, tooth decay and gum disease.

What are the symptoms of dry mouth?

The symptoms of dry mouth include:

  • A dry or sticky mouth, tongue or throat
  • Difficulty eating and swallowing
  • Difficulty talking
  • Sick and stringy saliva
  • Mouth sores
  • Oral thrush
  • Sores at the corners of your mouth
  • Cracked lips

What causes dry mouth?

Many factors can cause dry mouth, but here are some of the main ones:

  • Age. Dry mouth is common among older people. This is because our mouths produce less saliva as we get older. There are also contributing factors related to ageing, such as medication use, long-term health problems and poor nutrition.
  • Medications. Medications such as antihistamines, diuretics, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety drugs can all cause dry mouth.
  • Health problems. Dry mouth can be a symptom of serious health problems, such as diabetes, stroke, oral thrush, Alzheimer’s disease, and AIDS.
  • Smoking and alcohol. Both tobacco and alcohol can cause dry mouth.

Does dry mouth go away on its own?

Dry mouth will go away once the underlying cause is addressed. To determine what’s causing your dry mouth, it’s best to see a doctor.

What is the treatment for dry mouth?

If you’re suffering from dry mouth, then your doctor might recommend one of the following forms of treatment:

  • Medication. If your dry mouth is severe, then your doctor might prescribe you with medication that stimulates saliva production. Pilocarpine and cevimeline are two such medications.
  • Medication adjustments. If a medication you’re taking is causing your dry mouth, such as an antidepressant, then your doctor might adjust your dosage or switch you to another medication.
  • Prescription or over-the-counter products. There are many products on the market that combat dry mouth. Some are available over the counter while some are prescription only. Examples are artificial saliva, mouth moisturisers and special mouthwashes.

In the meantime, here are a few things you can do yourself at home:

  • Water. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your mouth moist.
  • Chewing gum. Chewing gum will stimulate your mouth to produce saliva. However, make sure your gum is sugar-free as it’s kinder for your teeth.
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol. Alcohol and tobacco can dry your mouth, so it’s best to avoid these.