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What Are The Causes Of Dry Mouth?

Posted on August 27, 2015 in Dental Health, Common Questions


Xerostomia - more commonly known as "dry mouth" - affects millions of Americans.

This condition can range from a mild annoyance all the way to severe complications due to an extreme lack of saliva.  Either way, dry mouth negatively affects a person's quality of life.

Though most cases of dry mouth are found in women, the leading cause of dry mouth is due to a particular side effect of various medications:  the decrease in saliva production.

The medications that most often lead to dry mouth are:

  • Antihistamines
  • Antidepressants
  • Diuretics
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories

Also known to lead to dry mouth are these medical conditions:

  • Salivary gland diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Mouth breathing
  • Sleep apnea
  • Autoimmune disorders

The important thing to take into consideration if you suffer from dry mouth is that it is more than an annoyance.  Dry mouth (especially severe cases), if left untreated, can result in some major dental complications.

Dry mouth is the drop in production of saliva.  Saliva is the protective and cleansing fluid found in the mouth that performs many duties:

  • Protects oral tissues against ulcers, sores, and the effects of friction
  • Neutralizes acids
  • Provides antibodies against potential bacterial threat
  • Aids in the digestion of food
  • Helps teeth remineralize
  • Contributes to a person's ability to taste

With the decline of such an important fluid comes some very uncomfortable consequences:  problems with eating, halitosis (bad breath), periodontal disease, and an increased number of cavities.

Experiencing dry mouth is worth the trip to the dentist so he can take a look!

What are the treatments for dry mouth?

A treatment plan for dry mouth depends entirely on what is causing it.  Is it due to the side effect of a medication that you are on?  Perhaps your doctor could modify the dosage.  Is your dry mouth a result of any of the previously mentioned medical conditions?  Then directly treating that particular condition would hopefully bring you relief.

But in the meantime, there are a few adjustments that you can make to help ease your discomfort:

  • Chew sugar-free gum
  • Limit your caffeine intake
  • Don't use mouthwashes that contain alcohol
  • Forego all alcohol consumption
  • Sip water continually
  • Try over-the-counter saliva substitutes

Here at Montgomery Dentistry, we want you to know that conditions seemingly unrelated to dentistry are quite often worth having your dentist look into.

If you are experiencing conditions similar to that of dry mouth, please contact us.  We would be happy to answer any questions and invite you in for an exam!

Photo Credit: Header Photo


About the Author

Dr. Jay L. Robertson

Dr. Jay L. Robertson

Dr. Jay Robertson joined our practice in July 2008.  He is from Montgomery and is a graduate of Saint James School, Birmingham-Southern College, and the University of Alabama, Birmingham School of Dentistry.  He is a member of the American Dental Association, the Alabama Dental Association and the Academy of General Dentistry.

Dr. Robertson and his wife Jennifer have four children, John Campbell, Julian, Lowe, and Ansley.

Dr. Robertson serves on the board of the Montgomery Quarterback Club and is a member of the First United Methodist Church of Montgomery. When not at work, Dr. Robertson enjoys all things sports, including Auburn, golf, and his children’s various sports.

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