Why Your Mouth Is Always Dry
Saliva, a watery secretion made by the many glands in your mouth, contains essential substances that your body needs to digest food and maintain strong, healthy teeth.
Specifically, saliva is essential because it:
- Keeps your mouth moistened and comfortable
- Helps you chew, taste, and swallow solid food
- Has proteins and minerals that protect tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay and gum disease
- Fights germs in your mouth
- Stops bad breath
- Helps secure dentures in place
The act of eating or chewing helps your mouth produce more saliva. In fact, the harder you chew, the more saliva you produce. However, certain diseases and medications can impact how much saliva you make. And if your mouth does not produce enough saliva, you can suffer from dry mouth or xerostomia.
What Is Dry Mouth?
Over 700 different strains of bacteria have been found in the human mouth. To make matters worse, germs thrive in a dry mouth, making the tongue, gums, and other tissues in the mouth swollen and uncomfortable. A dry mouth overcrowded with germs also causes bad breath or halitosis.
Dry mouth also makes you more susceptible to developing rapid tooth decay and gum disease. This is because saliva helps clear food particles from your teeth, which is crucial to reducing your risk of cavities.
You may also notice that everything you eat is more bland and dry to the taste.
Too little saliva and a dry mouth can be caused by:
- Blockage in one or more pipes draining saliva (salivary duct obstruction)
- Certain diseases such as HIV or AIDS, Sjogren’s syndrome, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease
- Hyperarousal or the acute stress response
- Chemotherapy and radiation therapy
- The structural problem with a salivary duct
- Smoking tobacco
Hundreds of commonly used drugs impact saliva flow and cause dry mouth, such as:
- Anxiety medication
- Appetite suppressants
- Specific types of blood pressure drugs
- Diuretics or water pills
- Many antidepressants
- Certain pain medicines (analgesics)
As a general rule of thumb, always consult a medical professional about any side effects you might have when taking drugs and medication.
What Should I Do If I Have Too Little Saliva?
Here are a few tips you can try to help your salivary glands stay healthy and your mouth moist and comfortable:
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially water
- Suck on sugar-free candy
- Chew sugar-free gum
If symptoms of dry mouth persist, your dentist may recommend the use of artificial saliva—a liquid or spray often sold with no prescription. However, it is in your best interest to consult your healthcare provider about the most appropriate type of artificial saliva for your condition. Also, it is important to note that though this product will help keep your mouth moistened and comfortable, it does not contain the essential proteins, minerals, and other vital substances found in real saliva to aid with digestion.
The Right Dentist Can Help You Say Goodbye to Dry Mouth
If dry mouth becomes a persistent issue, Kyrene Family Dentistry can find the cause of the problem and provide the appropriate treatment you need. Dial 480-705-9005 today to schedule an appointment.