Diamond Dental is now Stone Creek Dental. New name, same great team!

Dr. William R. Ryan | Dr. Lewis H. Stephenson

Diamond Dental is now Stone Creek Dental. New name, same great team!

Dr. William R. Ryan | Dr. Lewis H. Stephenson

Dry Mouth Relief: Exploring the Symptoms, Causes, and Solutions

Table of Contents

Why Is Dry Mouth Dangerous?

Significant saliva production plays a crucial role in maintaining good oral health. Saliva helps wash away food particles and debris from the mouth. Without enough saliva, these particles can remain stuck to teeth and provide a dangerous breeding ground for bacteria to grow. This consistent plaque buildup can put you at serious risk for tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease.

Many of us who have experienced the discomfort of dry mouth have trouble finding relief. Dry mouth can range from mild to severe. If your mouth is unusually dry, despite drinking water regularly, you may have a medical condition called xerostomia, which happens when our salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva.

Dry mouth may seem harmless, but good saliva production is important for the health of your mouth, teeth, and gums. Inadequate saliva can make it difficult to speak, chew, swallow, or properly digest food. Further, a dry mouth limits your natural ability to rinse away harmful bacteria, putting you at higher risk for tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath.

Common Dry Mouth Symptoms

If you’re not producing enough saliva, your mouth will feel sticky, like your tongue is stuck to the roof of your mouth. You may also notice symptoms like:

  • Bad breath
  • Constant sore throat or hoarseness
  • Increased thirst
  • Cracked lips
  • Difficulty tasting, chewing, swallowing, or speaking

Possible Causes of Dry Mouth

Dry mouth can be caused by a variety of factors or habits. If you experience the symptoms mentioned above, it’s important to prioritize a visit to your dentist for an evaluation. Here are some of the more common causes of dry mouth:

Medical Conditions or Medications – Many medications like decongestants, pain relievers, antihistamines, and antidepressants are known to have dry mouth as a common side effect because they limit the production of our salivary glands. Also, medical conditions including diabetes, anemia, and Alzheimer’s disease can cause dry mouth. If your dry mouth is severe, speak to your doctor about your options for relief.

Mouth Breathing – Those who struggle with sleep apnea, snoring, or frequent mouth breathing will likely notice the symptoms of dry mouth.

Diet or Dehydration – A diet high in salty, sugary, acidic, or spicy foods may cause dry mouth or dehydration. Minimize consumption of these trigger foods by drinking plenty of plain, non-carbonated water to stay hydrated.

Aging and Genetics – As we age we will more frequently notice the symptoms of dry mouth. This is normal as our salivary glands produce less saliva, and our body changes the way we process medicine, absorb nutrients, and manage long-term health conditions. 

Alcohol or Tobacco Use – Alcohol and tobacco affect your ability to produce saliva. Minimize use to improve your oral health.

Primary Concerns for People with Dry Mouth

Occasional dry mouth due to dehydration may not be a serious problem. However, frequent or prolonged dry mouth symptoms can lead to serious risks to your oral health. Significant saliva production plays a crucial role in maintaining good oral health. 

Saliva helps wash away food particles and debris from the mouth. Without enough saliva, these particles can remain stuck to teeth and provide a breeding ground for dangerous bacteria to grow. This consistent plaque buildup will lead to tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease.

Options for Dry Mouth Relief

Next time you visit your local drugstore, you’ll find many over-the-counter solutions for temporary dry mouth relief. The goal of these treatments is to mimic or stimulate saliva production. Here are a few tips we recommend:

  • Chew sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production
  • Use a mouth rinse or lozenges specific for dry mouth
  • Drink plenty of plain, non-carbonated water during the day
  • Sleep with a humidifier 
  • Maintain excellent oral health including daily hygiene at home and routine visits with your dentist

The best dry mouth solution is prevention. Considering the common causes for dry mouth and dehydration, try adjusting your diet and lifestyle choices to make good hydration a priority. Then, know that our team is here to help! Speak to your dentist at your next wellness visit to ensure you’re taking the steps to reduce your risk of cavities and gingivitis caused by dry mouth. To schedule an appointment, give us a call or book online.