Do you find it difficult to chew food because your mouth feels dry? Do you feel like your saliva is thick and stringy? Is your tongue usually covered with a white layer no matter how vigorously you clean it every morning?
If any of the above is true, chances are you are suffering from dry mouth. Dry mouth is a condition in which there is insufficient saliva in your mouth. While it sounds harmless, dry mouth is usually a symptom of some underlying condition. If left untreated dry mouth can lead to further dental as well as systemic complications.
So what are the various causes of dry mouth? Let’s find out.
1. Mouth breathing:
Mouth breathing is the most common cause of dry mouth. It is usually triggered by allergies, nasal block due to a cough and cold or if you use dentures, splints or retainers at night. When mouth breathing happens at night, it leaves your mouth open for long durations. This causes dryness of the oral cavity leading to dry mouth. Solving the underlying issue is necessary to get rid of mouth breathing and dry mouth.
2. Stress and anxiety:
Stress and anxiety can cause a reduced flow of saliva in your mouth. However, it is not long lasting. Dry mouth due to stress comes in bursts of short periods which subsides after some time. However, most of the time it’s not just the stress and anxiety but the medication taken to subside it that can cause dry mouth. Dry mouth is a known side effect of antidepressants, antianxiety and antipsychotic. If it’s a drug-induced dry mouth, the symptoms subside once the medication is stopped.
Hundreds of medications have dry mouth as a side effect. A few of them are antihypertensive, muscle relaxants, analgesics, and diuretics. Dry mouth due to medication is temporary and reversible. However, till the time you are on medications, measures should be taken to promote good flow of saliva like chewing sugarless chewing gums, taking small sips of water and sucking on ice chips.
Dry mouth is a common symptom of high blood sugar. It can worsen the side effects of diabetes again increases the sugar level of the body. Dry mouth is not just a symptom but can be a cause of diabetes. Having a dry mouth with diabetes leads to rampant tooth decay which makes the blood sugar level of the body to be elevated to fight infection.
As your body dehydrates, your saliva becomes more viscous losing reduction in flow. It can easily be reversed by drinking water and rehydrating your body.
Habits like smoking and chewing tobacco, drinking coffee and drinking alcohol can cause your mouth to dry out as well as they can make the existing condition worst. Quitting these habits coupled with a healthy lifestyle can reverse your condition.
Radiotherapy to head and neck to cure cancer can cause inflammation of salivary gland known as mucositis. This leads to decreased secretions from the salivary gland causing dry mouth.
Saliva plays an important role in keeping you healthy. In the absence of it, your body is vulnerable able to a number of diseases. It is important to consult your dentist and identify the underlying cause of this condition.