Your resource for dry mouth symptoms, causes, and remedies
Dry mouth (clinically termed xerostomia) is a condition in which salivary glands can no longer produce normal saliva flow due to mouth breathing while sleeping, medications, age, dehydration, illnesses, cancer treatment and other underlying issues.
Saliva production is an important bodily function that helps protect the mouth from infection by controlling bacteria, keeping the mouth moist and clean, and neutralizing the acids produced by dental plaque. Saliva washes away dead mouth lining cells and food particles that have accumulated on the tongue, gums, and teeth. It also helps with digestion by making it possible to chew, taste, and swallow food.
Dry mouth affects about 20% of all people in the world and is more prevalent in women than men. The feeling of dry mouth reduces quality of life, but there are two even more serious consequences of dry mouth: first, dry mouth disturbs sleep because saliva flow is always lowest while sleeping. Second, dry mouth causes rampant tooth decay.
Dry Mouth Symptoms
You may be suffering from dry mouth if you are experiencing the following signs and symptoms:
- Tooth decay – without proper salivary production to wash away food particles and bacteria from the tongue, gums, and teeth and to neutralize acids produced by bacteria, tooth decay may be more common and progress much quicker than it would have in other circumstances
- Disturbed sleep from unpleasant mouth sensations
- White film on the tongue (also known as oral thrush) – this coating is a buildup of sloughed material due to excessive growth of a normal yeast fungus which sometimes flourishes in a dry mouth
- Rough dry tongue
- Altered taste sensation (e.g., a metallic taste)
- Bad breath
- A burning or tingling sensation in the mouth
- Thick or stringy saliva
- Difficulty swallowing and chewing, especially when eating dry foods
- Difficulty wearing dentures, especially when swallowing or speaking
- Mouth sourness or ulcers
- Dry, sore, and cracked lips in the corners of the mouth
Dry Mouth Causes
There are several causes of dry mouth, also called xerostomia. These include:
There are over 1,800 medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, that list dry mouth as a side effect. Some of the most commonly prescribed include:
- ADHD medications (methylphenidate and amphetamines)
- Narcotic pain relievers
- SSRI antidepressants
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- Bupropion (and other NRI antidepressants)
- Sleep medications (like Ambien and Lunesta)
- Oxybutynin (for bladder control or incontinence)
- Muscle relaxants (cyclobenzaprine)
- Everyday medicines, such as cold remedies and antihistamines
While dry mouth tends to be more common in the elderly, it is not necessarily due to their age, but rather the fact that this population tends to take several medications. Half of all Americans aged 60 years or older take three or more prescription medications on a regular basis. Older people are also more likely to be affected by cancer and Sjögren’s syndrome, both of which cause dry mouth.
Dry mouth is one of the more prominent symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome. This disease affects the body’s immune system and attacks the tear and salivary glands. Females are more likely to suffer from this chronic condition, as 90% of people with the disease are women.
One of the most common oral health problems of diabetics is dry mouth because diabetics have an increased risk of dehydration due to higher blood glucose levels. While thirst may be the first indicator people recognize, dry mouth and dry eyes are also a main symptom of dehydration. Learn how to treat dry mouth from diabetes.
Chemotherapy or radiation treatments can be damaging to the salivary glands of neck and head cancer patients specifically. Although some may regain partial salivary production after the first year of their treatment, many will continue to suffer from long-term dry mouth symptoms, especially if radiation was directed at their salivary glands.
Some people with Parkinson’s disease experience dry mouth because they swallow repeatedly, which uses up the saliva that is needed to be comfortable. Dry mouth may also be caused by some of the medications for Parkinson’s disease, particularly anticholinergic medications.
The use of a CPAP machine to treat sleep apnea is another common cause of dry mouth. Learn more about treating dry mouth from CPAP machines.
While there are some causes of dry mouth that can be avoided, such as tobacco, food, poor dental hygiene, etc., many other conditions and medications cause dry mouth as a side effect, which cannot be prevented. To help ward off dry mouth as a side effect, the quickest and easiest form of treatment is to increase saliva flow through the use of XyliMelts for Dry Mouth.
Dry Mouth Treatment
An effective dry mouth remedy not only increases the amount of saliva produced, but, in most cases, also takes care of its accompanying symptom, bad breath.
XyliMelts help alleviate both dry mouth and bad breath symptoms. XyliMelts not only a dry mouth product that can help increase saliva and freshen breath, but also last for hours and can be worn overnight, working to moisturize and coat the mouth for optimal comfort.
While XyliMelts won’t cure dry mouth or bad breath, the products can be used in combination with other dental practices to provide additional dry mouth relief. These include:
- Brushing and flossing regularly – including brushing your tongue – to rid the mouth of dead mouth-lining cells, extra food particles, and bacteria
- Visiting the dentist regularly to ensure dentures or braces are properly fitted and cleaned
- Quitting smoking or using chewing tobacco
- Natural remedies, such as chewing mint or parsley
- Keeping the mouth moist by drinking water or chewing sugarless gum or 4sugar-free hard candy to stimulate the production of saliva