What is dry mouth?

Oct 6, 2020
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Dry mouth just means that you are not producing enough spit or salvia to keep your mouth at the best moisture level. Everyone gets it at some point, some when they feel nervous, upset or stressed out. But if you’re experiencing a dry mouth all the time, it can get very uncomfortable, lead to more severe issues, or actually be an indicator of an underlying health problem. 

Saliva does more than just keep your mouth moist. It helps to break down food, prevents tooth decay, prevents bacteria build-up which causes infections, moistens gums, and makes it easier to chew and swallow food.

If you are experiencing a dry mouth a lot of the time, make sure to speak to your dentist north wales. They can try to find the cause of it, and suggest the best steps to take.

Why would I have a dry mouth?

The glands which produce saliva are called the salivary glands. These may not function properly for several reasons including:

  • As a side effect from certain medications – there are over 400 medications which are known to cause dry mouth as a side effect. This is including antihistamines, decongestants, diuretics, pain killers, and also medicines for depression and high blood pressure.

  • Diseases – some diseases affect the salivary glands, such as diabetes, Parkinson’s, AIDS/HIV, Hodgkin’s, and Sjogren’s syndrome could lead to having a dry mouth.

  • Radiation therapy – your salivary glands can become damaged if your head and neck undergo radiation therapy as a treatment for things such as cancer. Saliva loss can be a partial loss, or sometimes a complete loss. It can either be temporary or permanent.

  • Chemotherapy treatment – the drugs that are used to treat cancer can cause saliva to become thicker or “ropey” which makes your mouth feel dried out.

  • Menopause – the change in hormone levels in women can sometimes result in experiencing a dry mouth.

  • Smoking – lots of people who smoke pipes, cigars, and a lot of cigarettes experience dry mouth.

How is dry mouth treated?

The only permanent way to cure dry mouth is to look for the cause and treat that. If the dry mouth is from the medication you are taking, speak to your doctor to see if there are any alternatives or perhaps a change in dosage. If your salivary glands are still working but just not producing enough saliva, you could be given a medicine to help them work. 

If you cannot get rid of the cause of the dry mouth, you might be given mouth moisturisers and special mouthwashes. Other ways that help include:

  • Sipping water often
  • Avoiding caffeine
  • Chewing sugar free gum or sucking sugar free sweets
  • Avoiding tobacco and alcohol
  • Use a humidifier at night
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