Dental Tips Blog

Oct
16

What Causes Dry Mouth?

Dry mouth is called Xerostomia. Not only is it uncomfortable, but it can also damage your teeth and cause you to need additional dental care. A variety of factors can cause xerostomia, but typical reasons include common prescription medications, alcohol-containing oral hygiene products, smoking, radiation therapy, illegal drug use and salivary gland pathology. Our mouth is meant to secrete saliva throughout the day, to help cleanse the tooth surfaces and keep them lubricated. When there is an absence of saliva, the teeth are more susceptible to decay and enamel erosion. Decay occurs at a much quicker rate in a dry mouth, because there is no saliva to help flush away the sugar and acid byproducts on the teeth.

Medications cause many side effects, and one of the most common ones is dry mouth. While this isn’t a reason to drop your medication and stop taking it immediately, it does signal a red flag to start preventing what can happen if the condition is persistent. Alcohol use, or alcohol-containing mouth rinses can also reduce saliva flow in the mouth. Radiation therapy or pathology of salivary glands will cause the glands to stop secreting saliva, and illegal drug use causes the glands to dry up while also causing the person to crave sugary drinks (which further advance tooth decay).

Using alcohol-free mouth rinses and mouth lubrication products can help create a more lubricated environment in the mouth. It’s best to avoid mints or other candy because even though the increase saliva flow, they create an acidic environment in the mouth. Drinking plenty of water and chewing gum that contains Xylitol can help keep the mouth lubricated while also fight against tooth decay.

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