Why does my mouth feel dry all the time?
We often hear this question asked by a lot of people. Your once well moist mouth suddenly decides to go completely dry and you are left helpless with no idea what to do. Dry mouth is a condition commonly referred to as XEROSTOMIA in the medical field. This condition is experienced when the production of saliva in the mouth is not enough. It could be due to reasons like being agitated or upset. Everyone goes through this problem once or a few times in their lives, but if you are having a dry mouth most of the time, it could be a sign of severe health problems.
Problems Caused by Dry Mouth
We all know that the production of saliva is very important because besides keeping the mouth wet it also helps in digestion of food. It also prevents tooth decay and helps in prevention of infections caused by different bacteria and fungi in the mouth. Having a dry mouth can cause you the following problems:
- Difficulty in tasting and chewing food.
- Difficulty in swallowing food.
- It may cause difficulty in speaking.
- Increase the chances of dental decay and infections caused by bacteria in the mouth.
Symptoms of Dry Mouth
- You feel thirsty frequently.
- Your tongue gets dry, red and raw.
- You feel a burning sensation in your mouth.
- Sores appear at the corners of the mouth and this can be characterised by cracked lips.
- Your breath smells bad.
So what really causes Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth is caused by poor functionality of glands that produce saliva. The following are reasons that can cause these glands to not work properly:
- It could be a side effect of some medication you are taking, e.g. medications for high blood pressure and depression have been known to cause dry mouth.
- It could be a side effect of certain diseases e.g. hyper-tension, Parkinson’s disease, stroke and mumps.
- High frequency radiations can also be a cause of dry mouth.
- Autoimmune diseases like Sjorgen syndrome
- Normal dehydration.
- Mouth breathing
Treatment for Dry Mouth
There are different medications available for dry mouth that can increase the production of saliva. You can follow the following few steps to help with dry mouth.
- Use water regularly
Keeping a water bottle handy is the best thing for dry mouth. keep sipping water at regular intervals and also during meals help keeping the mouth wet.
- Use mouthwash
Try using a mouthwash designed for dry mouth especially the ones containing xylitol like Biotene mouth rinse (Xylitol is a SA/sugar alcohol which is a little eatable carbohydrate that resists starches plus includes fibre). Do not use mouthwashes that contain alcohol because that can cause more dryness.
- Use saliva substitutes
Use of over the counter saliva substitutes can help such as Biotene oral balance.
- Chew sugar free gum
By chewing sugar free gums and hard candies the production of saliva is increased that can prevent from dry mouth. Most sugar free candies contain xylitol that can cause diarrhea on large consumption so consume it as prescribed by the dentist.
- Change in dietary habits
Avoid any drinks with caffeine such as coffee, tea and sodas. Caffeine can make your mouth drier so limit your intake amount of caffeine.
- Stop using tobacco
Tobacco has always been a cause of several minor to fatal health problems, and dry mouth is no exception. With prolonged use, tobacco can cause a mouth disease called leukoplakia, characterised by white patches and oral lesions on cheeks, gums and tongue which can eventually lead to oral cancer.
- Breathe through your nose
Try breathing through your nose as much as possible and avoid using your mouth as mouth breathing increases dryness. It is best to check with a doctor if you are mouth breather as there could be some underlying reason for it.
Gently brush your teeth at least twice a day with a toothpaste containing fluoride. You can also use a fluoride rinse or a fluoride gel before going to bed. This is important as dry mouth increases the risk of tooth decay.
- Avoid sugary or acidic food
Try to lessen your intake of sugary foods, acidic foods and sweet candies, as they can cause tooth decay. In case you just consumed some, always brush your teeth immediately afterwards.
If these steps do not help in improving your dry mouth, do not wait any longer. You should visit your dentist for further consultation and treatment immediately.