The Who, What, and Why of Dry Mouth

We take saliva for granted until we don’t have enough of it. When you’re suffering from dry mouth, it might seem like you can never drink enough water to replenish your salivary glands. While hydrating is one way to stave off the ill effects of dry mouth, this is only a temporary fix for a much larger problem. Without help from a medical professional, like your family dentist, this health issue can quickly get out of hand.

Here’s what you should know about dry mouth, including what to look for, who can get it, and why this issue occurs in the first place.

What is dry mouth?

Dry mouth occurs when your salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva to keep your mouth comfortable. Our mouths need spit in order to break down food, help strengthen teeth and gums, and even swallow. Saliva aids in our day to day lives in ways that we don’t often consider; even talking relies on a healthy amount of saliva. Your family dentist will be able to outline even more ways that saliva is necessary.

When your mouth doesn’t have enough saliva, you experience an issue called dry mouth. Not only does this condition create discomfort in the mouth, but it can also lead to other health issues without intervention. For people who suffer from chronic dry mouth, they might experience rough tongue, cracked or dry lips, mouth sores, and even tooth decay. When 32% of people are concerned by the look of their teeth, preventing dry mouth is more important than ever.

For these individuals, drinking water simply isn’t enough to keep the ill effects of dry mouth at bay. More often than not, dry mouth sufferers need to visit their family dentist for diagnosis and treatment.

Why does dry mouth occur?

Dry mouth can occur for a number of reasons. Temporary bouts of dry mouth are common if you’re feeling nervous or haven’t drunk enough water throughout the day. But dry mouth is more than just feeling thirsty. When you’re suffering from chronic symptoms of dry mouth, it’s often the result of a larger issue.

For example, new medications might list dry mouth as a potential side effect. This is increasingly common for people taking antidepressants, antihistamines, and high blood pressure medications. This implies that the populations who need this medication are at a higher risk for developing dry mouth. However, some diseases can cause dry mouth symptoms on their own, especially those that affect the salivary glands. Diabetes, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s, and Hodkin’s can all impact the salivary glands and lead to dry mouth.

Who is at risk of developing dry mouth?

According to a recent study by MedicineNet, up to 10% of all people suffer from dry mouth, with women experiencing the condition more than men. Though many people believe that developing dry mouth is a simple part of aging, this couldn’t be further from the truth; there is almost always a cause for dry mouth that needs to be addressed. Otherwise, your oral health, including your teeth, are at a greater risk for problems.

Unfortunately, some populations are more likely to experience dry mouth than others. New mothers, for example, may face dry mouth as they cope with dehydration from milk pumping and hormonal changes. Folks coping with the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s may forget to drink water as often as they should which leads to dry mouth issues. But even sick kids who are experiencing diarrhea might get dehydrated enough to experience dry mouth.

It just goes to show that anyone can suffer from this annoying health issue.

Bonus: How is dry mouth treated?

Dry mouth is often treated by removing the cause of the illness. This might mean switching medications or setting reminders to hydrate at multiple times throughout the day. Some people will even set up a humidifier in their bedroom to reduce the feeling of dry mouth throughout the night. Ask your family doctor for more tips when you want to beat dry mouth today.

When you’re worried about the effects that dry mouth has on your teeth and gums, be sure to talk to your family dentist about your options. Rely on Railroad Dental Associates for more information.