Our dental health is maintained by saliva produced from the salivary glands present in the mouth. Enzymes present in saliva moisten and cleanse our mouth by keeping it wet, giving us the ability to taste, chew, and swallow food.
Saliva is the first line of defense in oral hygiene, preventing tooth decay by neutralizing acids from bacteria and aiding digestion.
So when your mouth does not produce enough saliva, it gets dry and uncomfortable. This condition is known as xerostomia, pasties, cottonmouth, drooth, or dough mouth.
1. Can nerve damage cause dry mouth?
The facial nerve supplies the salivary glands. Any trauma or nerve damage to the head and neck can affect the sensation to the mouth, resulting in a dry mouth feeling.
2. Can dehydration lead to dry mouth?
Another cause of dry mouth could also be when you are not drinking enough fluids. Excessive sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, and blood loss can cause dry mouth and dehydration. Drinking more water may not help fix it, as it could mean there’s an underlying medical issue. Therefore, a medical checkup is advised. But keep in mind that sipping water and maintaining your oral hygiene can still help cleanse your teeth until your saliva flow returns to normal.
3. What are some other causes of dry mouth or xerostomia?
Some other causes of dry mouth include:
- Medications: Antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure tablets, antidepressants, muscle relaxants.
- Age: Increased cases in older people.
- Dehydration: Consuming insufficient fluids.
- Health Illnesses: Health conditions like HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, Sjögren’s syndrome, Alzheimer’s, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, diabetes, mumps, cystic fibrosis, anxiety, and depression can cause xerostomia.
- Tobacco, alcohol, recreational drugs: Alcohol consumption and smoking or chewing tobacco can amplify dry mouth symptoms. Methamphetamine leads to teeth damage and “meth mouth.” Marijuana usage can also cause dry mouth.
- Cancer Therapy: Side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy used to treat cancer can cause dry mouth.
- Nerve Damage: Any injury or surgery in the head or neck area that results in nerve damage can cause dry mouth.
What are the symptoms of dry mouth?
The typical signs of dry mouth are the following:
- Trouble breathing, speaking, swallowing.
- Cracked lips.
- Bad breath.
- Oral thrush.
- Mouth sores, dry throat.
- Frequent thirst.
- Burning or tingling sensation on the tongue.
- Frequent thirst.
- Mouth sores.
- Dry, red tongue.
- Tooth decay.
- Change in taste.
- Dry nasal passages.
What complications can dry mouth cause?
Dry mouth can cause the following complications:
- Increased plaque, tooth decay, and gum disease.
- Yeast infection in the mouth.
- Poor choice of nutrition causing problems with chewing, swallowing.
- Sjögren’s Syndrome: This is an acute autoimmune disorder where the body’s immune system erroneously attacks its own moisture-producing glands, the tear secreting and salivary glands, as well as other organs.
How is dry mouth treated?
The following treatments are used to treat dry mouth:
- Maintain oral hygiene with fluoride toothpaste and rinses.
- Adjust or change medication doses.
- Sipping water and staying hydrated.
- Breathing through your nose.
- Room humidifier.
- Moisturizing dry, cracked areas like your lips.
- Surgical removal of the salivary glands.
- Reducing caffeine and alcohol.
- Avoiding tobacco and recreational drugs.
- Avoiding sugary, spicy, salty, or acidic foods.
- Visiting the dentist regularly.
If you have noticed persistent dry mouth signs or any dental health issues, let our team of dentists take care of your oral hygiene. To make an appointment, please visit your West Des Moines dentist.