Dry mouth occurs when saliva production by the glands (salivary glands) in the mouth is decreased, making the mouth feel unusually dry. Saliva is important for oral health because it helps protect the oral tissues against ulcers or sores that might arise from friction during eating and speaking, it neutralizes acids, protects against tooth decay, and helps digest your food while also helping you taste your food. Dry mouth can be attributed to various factors, including dehydration from caffeine, alcohol or tobacco use (chewing or smoking), fever, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive sweating, blood loss, or burns. Breathing through your mouth and snoring while you sleep can also give you dry mouth.
Health conditions including nerve damage to the head and neck area from an injury or surgery can cause dry mouth, as can anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, cystic fibrosis, hypertension, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and even mumps. Autoimmune disease like Sjogren’s syndrome or HIV/AIDS lower saliva production, and stroke and Alzheimer’s disease may make you feel like you have dry mouth when actually the salivary glands are working.
Cancer therapy can damage the salivary glands, and chemotherapy drugs can also change saliva production. Saliva flow usually returns after treatment is completed, but radiation treatments may lower saliva production temporarily or permanently, depending on the dose of the radiation and the area that was treated.
Another common cause of dry mouth arises as a side effect of taking certain medications, both prescription and nonprescription drugs. Medications causing dry mouth include those for obesity, acne, epilepsy, hypertension, urinary incontinence, asthma, and Parkinson’s disease.
Common medications listing dry mouth as a side effect:
–Medications for diarrhea
–Antihistamines and decongestants for colds
–Medication for anxiety, depression and psychotic disorders
If you have any questions or concerns about dry mouth, please give our Mendez Family Dental team a call at 620-231-6070 today.