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Don’t Live with Dry Mouth

According to Dentistry IQ, one in four adults in the United States currently suffers from dry mouth. Although it seems like producing less saliva than normal is no big deal, it can actually lead to serious dental problems, according to Dr. David Buck, founder of Balance Epigenetic Orthodontics in Lynnwood, Washington.

"Sure, everyone experiences dry mouth from time to time due to stress or dehydration, but if it becomes chronic, it can leave your mouth vulnerable to decay and disease," he said.

Saliva is a natural antimicrobial and helps protect teeth and gums. It also helps with digestion, speaking and swallowing. When the body stops producing as much of it, there may be a few noticeable signs:

  • Difficulty speaking or swallowing
  • Burning or pain in the mouth
  • Lack of taste
  • Chronic thirst
  • Cracked, dry lips
  • Sores in the mouth
  • Dryness in the throat and mouth

Medications Commonly Cause Dry Mouth

One of the most common causes of dry mouth is a surprise to many people: medications.

"Over half of all those suffering from dry mouth symptoms can blame it on a side effect of a medication they’re taking," said Buck.

Some statistics state that as much as 64 percent of dry mouth cases can be attributed to medications. More than 400 different medications list dry mouth as a side effect, and they treat some of the most common ailments experienced by American adults. These include, but are not limited to, medications like:

  • Antidepressants
  • Sedatives
  • Muscle relaxers
  • Antihistamines
  • Diuretics
  • Cancer treatments

"If you’re taking a medication that causes dry mouth, be sure to talk to your doctor about alternative medications you could substitute for," said Buck. "There are many medications that can easily be replaced for ones that don’t cause dry mouth and keep your teeth and gums protected and in good health."

Other Causes of Dry Mouth 

Medications aren’t the only causes of dry mouth. Lifestyle choices such as smoking can cause dry mouth along with stress, depression and anxiety. Diseases like Sjögren’s syndrome, diabetes, HIV, hepatitis and Parkinson’s disease can also cause dry mouth. Pregnancy and hormonal changes can also affect the production of saliva, as can many autoimmune diseases.

Managing the Symptoms of Dry Mouth 

The first step to managing symptoms of dry mouth is determining the cause. If it is a medication and there’s no alternative, it’s time to consider other ways to manage symptoms. Staying hydrated is the first line of defense from dry mouth, said Buck.

"The second most common cause of dry mouth besides medications is dehydration," he said. "If you don’t drink enough water, be sure to up your intake and try to eat more water-based foods like watermelon and cucumbers."

There are also many products available on the market to help address symptoms of dry mouth, such as mouth rinses, chewing gum, lozenges and more. It’s important to address dry mouth symptoms as soon as possible to avoid damage to teeth and gums.

 

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