causes of dry mouth - man drinking from water bottle

7 Common Causes of Dry Mouth

An occasional dry mouth from time to time is no cause for concern. However, if you suffer from dry mouth daily, you need to seek treatment before it starts affecting your health. Without enough saliva to rid your mouth of bacteria and moisten your throat, dry mouth can quickly lead to cavities, gum disease, and digestive issues. 

But in order to treat dry mouth, first you need to know what’s causing it. Here are some of the most common causes of dry mouth, and how you can find relief. 

Seven Common Causes of Dry Mouth

1: Medications

Dry mouth is listed as a side effect of hundreds of different prescription drugs. Medications for antidepressants, heart disease, heartburn, and allergies (like decongestants and antihistamines) are just a few types that can dry out your mouth. 

If your medication is causing chronic dry mouth, speak with your doctor about adjusting your prescription. If it’s not possible to change your medication, you may need to visit the dentist more frequently for professional cleanings. 

2: Health Conditions

A wide variety of diseases and health complaints can also cause dry mouth. Rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s Syndrome, and HIV/AIDs can all contribute to dry mouth due to chronic inflammation that reduces saliva flow. People with diabetes can also get dry mouth from high blood sugar or dehydration. 

Treating the disease or medical condition can help relieve dry mouth. But if your symptoms don’t subside with treatment, you may need more frequent dental cleanings to keep tooth decay and gum disease at bay. 

3: Tobacco and Alcohol Use

Smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol can each affect your mouth in a number of ways. They can cause dry mouth, teeth staining, gum disease, and oral cancer. Quitting smoking and reducing alcohol intake, or quitting alcohol altogether can help give you relief from dry mouth and improve your oral health.

4: Mouth Breathing

Breathing through your mouth, especially at night, dries it out. Whether you’re dealing with a cold or you breathe through your mouth naturally, using a humidifier can help give you relief. Moistening the air you breathe in will help keep your mouth moist.    

5: Dehydration

When you don’t have enough fluids in your body, you become dehydrated. This can cause dizziness, confusion, low blood pressure, and other symptoms, including dry mouth. You can stay hydrated and help your body produce saliva by drinking plenty of water and clear liquids. 

6: Chemotherapy

The radiation from chemotherapy could damage your salivary glands or alter the nature of your saliva. If you have dry mouth from chemotherapy, you can manage your symptoms by staying hydrated, using an over-the-counter saliva rinse or spray, and sucking on sugar-free lozenges. Make sure to follow a good oral hygiene routine to keep your teeth healthy. 

7: Nerve Damage

Damage to your nerves can prevent your body from activating the salivary glands. Many diseases and surgeries that involve the head and neck can cause minor nerve damage. For instance, diabetic neuropathy is a common type of nerve damage in people with diabetes. 

If you have dry mouth from nerve damage, you might feel numbness or shooting pain in your neck or jaw. You could also experience burning mouth syndrome, which causes a constant burning sensation in your tongue and other areas of your mouth. Speak with your doctor about treating the nerve damage so they can help you find long-term relief. 

Teeth Cleanings in Gilbert

Routine preventative care is always important, but it is especially crucial when you have dry mouth. If you’re due for professional cleaning, don’t hesitate to contact Lifetime Family Dental. We offer gentle cleanings and a variety of other preventive services that will protect your smile. We can also recommend the best ways to manage your specific dry mouth symptoms. Call our Gilbert office today at 480-558-4331 to schedule an appointment.  

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (11/14/2022). Photo by Nigel Msipa on Unsplash