Why Is My Mouth Dry?

Dry mouth affects about 10% of Australians and increases to around 25% for the older generation. It is an uncomfortable condition which is the result of the reduced or absent production of saliva. If your mouth feels often dry, you have difficulty swallowing, suffer from bad breath and taste, you might be suffering from a condition known as Xerostomia however it is important to get a diagnosis from your dentist or doctor as it may also be a symptom of an underlying health condition.

Symptoms of Dry Mouth?

Your dentist will be able to diagnose dry mouth syndrome during your routine dental examination. Although symptoms vary from person to person depending on its severity here are some of the most common signs and symptoms

  • Dry mouth, rough tongue, cheeks and throat
  • Dry cracked lips
  • Thickening or sticky saliva
  • Difficulty chewing and swallowing dry foods
  • Bad breath
  • Bad taste
  • Frequent ulcers
  • Susceptibility to oral thrush
  • Prickly burning sensation
  • Loose dentures as saliva help with the suction of the denture and the gums.

Why is Saliva Important?

Saliva is extremely important as it not only moist our mouth, but it also plays a vital role in the overall health of our mouth as it:

  • Prevents dehydration by moistening the mouth
  • Rinses and cleanses our mouth
  • Neutralises the acids produced by plaque and contains antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral compounds that prevent infections.
  • Assists with speech
  • Aids with taste
  • Aids with digestion
  • Saliva contains calcium and phosphorus, which help strengthen and rebuild enamel.

Dry Mouth it is not only bothersome and uncomfortable. But it also has an impact on your oral health, which can result in a greater chance of oral problems such as gum disease and decay.

Causes of Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is multifactorial and it is important that when you see your dentist you update them of any changes to your medical history or if you are taking any medications.  Some of the many causes of dry mouth are

  • Drugs and medications both legal and recreational drugs (antidepressants, high blood pressure medication, antihistamines, sedatives, pain relief medications, weight loss medications and illegal drugs such as cocaine)
  • Dehydration
  • Cancer treatments can affect the salivary glands
  • Habitual breathing through the mouth
  • Drinking too many drinks high in caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Aging and hormonal changes

Can it be treated?

Treatment depends on the cause of dry mouth and if you have been diagnosed by your dentist some the will recommend avoiding any irritating factors such as caffeine, alcohol, smoking illegal drugs as well as they might like to speak to your doctor to see if change of medication might help reduce or alleviate the symptoms.

The use of saliva substitutes may help lubricate and help with dry mouth discomfort however please follow instructions

There is also a variety of dry mouth products that range from toothpaste, mouth wash, lubricant, soothing gels, and chewing gum, please speak to your dentist as they can guide you on what, when and how to use the right product for your specific needs.

Essential tips to help you with your dry mouth

  • Eat chewy food to stimulate saliva flow
  • Keep hydrated and try to have regular small sips of water all through the day
  • Reduce the consumption of coffee, tea, juice, soft drinks, energy drinks, and acidic drinks
  • Avoid smoking
  • Avoid oral products that contain alcohol as they can increase dryness
  • Avoid crunchy food that can injure or cut your mouth e.g. corn chips
  • Include watery food in your diet
  • Reduce sugary drinks and foods
  • Chew sugar-free gum in-between foods (no longer than 10 minutes at any given time)
  • Cut back on salty food
  • Use a room humidifier as dry air tends to exacerbate dry mouth
  • Practice breathing through your nose
  • Maintain regular dental examination so that your dentist can pick any oral health problems at early stages.

If the signs of dry mouth are impacting your life, you are not alone we are here to help you out. We can provide you with information and solutions that will help your everyday routine more comfortable and above all help, you reduce the risk of future dental problems and toothaches. So, if you or your loved one suffers from dry mouth and would like more information please speak to us, at your next dental visit or call us on (08) 8382 2410