Dry Mouth and Its Causes

Dry Mouth and Its Causes

Posted by Dr. Abeyta on Apr 11 2011, 12:30 PM

Dry mouth is a condition that occurs when saliva production is reduced or stopped altogether. Saliva production normally decreases when we are asleep, which is why dry mouth is most common at night. This condition can be caused by a number of different factors.

One of the most common causes of dry mouth is dehydration. Drinking a lot of caffeinated beverages, alcohol, or sugary drinks can cause a person to suffer from dehydration. Dehydration can cause the salivary glands to produce less saliva.

Saliva is very important for oral health. It cleanses the mouth, fights bacteria, and works to prevent cavities. Dry mouth occurs when there are not enough glands to produce saliva, either temporarily or long-term.

Medications and Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is a common side effect of many medications. The medications that are linked to dry mouth include:

- Antihistamines

- Blood pressure medications

- Decongestants

- Opioids

- Steroids

- Tranquilizers

- Antidepressants

- Cancer drugs

- Muscle relaxants

- Chemotherapy drugs

Many over-the-counter medications can cause dry mouth, too. Talk to your dentist or doctor about alternatives.

Diabetes and Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is common among patients with diabetes, especially for those who do not practice proper oral hygiene. Dry mouth can make it difficult for patients to stay hydrated. This can increase blood sugar and cause dehydration. Studies show that dry mouth is also associated with an increased risk for oral infections.

Systemic Conditions and Dry Mouth

Dry mouth, or xerostomia, can be caused by systemic conditions. Systemic conditions are those that affect the entire body, not just the mouth. These conditions can be mild or serious.

Dry mouth is often a side effect of medications taken to treat conditions such as arthritis. It can also be caused by common conditions including diabetes, hypothyroidism, autoimmune diseases, and Sjogren’s syndrome.

Radiation and Dry Mouth

Radiation can cause dry mouth, but it’s usually not permanent. Once you stop receiving radiation, your salivary glands will return to their usual functions.

However, some forms of radiation can damage the salivary glands permanently. This can cause chronic dry mouth.

Smoking and Dry Mouth

Smoking is known to cause a number of oral health issues. It can lead to bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease. When smoke is inhaled, it dries out the mouth and the throat, further drying out the oral tissues. Over time, this can lead to dry mouth.

Oral Health Habits

Dry mouth is caused by reduced saliva production. This can be caused by certain medications, certain health conditions, certain lifestyle choices, and even age.

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