What Causes Dry Mouth? Dry Mouth Symptoms and Home Remedies.
Your mouth always feels sticky, ropey, and even burns, especially when you wake up in the morning. It gets in the way of going about your day always feeling uncomfortable, causing difficulty with eating and or speaking and the constant unpleasant taste is becoming cumbersome. It’s a constant struggle and you are not alone.
According to the Surgeon General’s Report on Oral Health in America more than 400 over the counter and prescription medications can cause or worsen oral dryness.
The American Academy of Oral Medicine Lists (1) the following group of some of the drug groups. Ask your doctor about the specific medications you are taking and whether they have dry mouth side-effects.
Medical Conditions and Diseases
Autoimmune diseases (2):
- Sjogren Disease, (read more here)
- Lichen Planus (Read more here)
- Rheumatoid arthritis,
- Systemic lupus erythematosus,
- Polymyositis and
- Polyarteritis nodosa
- Cystic fibrosis
- Graft-vs-host disease
- Hormonal changes (pregnancy, menopause)
- Nerve damage from head and neck injury
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Psychogenic causes
- Salivary gland agenesis or aplasia
- Uncontrolled hypertension.
- Nerve damage due to trauma.
- Agenesis of major salivary glands (very rare condition where we are born with a missing saliva-producing gland)
It is a long-term condition in which contents of the stomach (which are very acidic) rise up to the esophagus (the part of our body through which food passes from our mouth to our stomach) and even the oral cavity. It can be the cause for bad taste in the mouth, tooth erosion etc. Dry mouth usually due to the side effect of medications which are used to treat GERD. They are called proton pump inhibitors.
There are many viral/bacterial infections that can cause salivary gland swelling and dry mouth as a result. They include: Staphylococcus aureus, or staph. Mumps. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), Cytomegalovirus (CMV), Coxsackievirus and Human Deficiency Virus (HIV), Hepatitis C (6)
Obstruction of saliva flow
The major salivary glands especially depend on passages (ducts) in order to let saliva through into the mouth. However, these passages can sometimes not function well or may be obstructed. If there is an object in it, such as a salivary stone, the duct will be blocked and saliva will not come out. (you can think of a kidney stone). Sometimes there are also abnormalities which cause the ducts to shrink or tumors which obstruct the ducts and do not let saliva through. (7)
Chemotherapy is a common treatment method for cancer treatment which involves cytotoxic and anti-neoplastic drugs. These drugs kill cells that divide rapidly, such as cancer cells.
Radiation therapy is intended to target cancer cells with ionized radiation. Tissues of the oral cavity or salivary glands can be permanently damaged with this form of treatment, which can cause a permanent decrease in salivary flow (dry mouth).
The following are the possible effects of chemo/radiation therapy on the oral cavity:
- Dry mouth due to direct/indirect damage to the salivary glands.
- Cavities, tooth infections, gum disease.
- Nausea and vomiting (acid causes enamel erosion).
- Mucositis (painful inflammation/ulceration of gums)
- Secondary infections: fungal, bacterial and viral.
- Increased bleeding
- Neural and chemosensory changes.
- Nausea and vomiting (acid causes enamel erosion).
Diabetes can cause dry mouth first, through dehydration. Diabetics, especially those who are not well controlled loose a lot of their fluids through urination. If we do not have enough water our bodies simply cannot produce enough saliva and as a result we experience dry mouth. Second, some medications used to treat diabetes, including diuretics, can also cause dry mouth. Third, diabetes can also alter blood circulation, including to the salivary glands, by which causing them to not work as well as they should.
- Recreational drugs
Diet is critical to our oral well as general health. There are foods which instantly and directly affect out experience of dry mouth such as acidic, spicy, sweet, carbonated foods, others have indirect general body inflammation-causing foods such as dairy, processed, preserved foods.
It is important to consider the possible multiple causes of dry mouth and to approach management from that perspective. Most patients find relief not just by addressing one causing factor, but by managing multiple factors at the same time. For example, while using prescription medications to increase salivary flow, patients will also follow proper over the counter product combination, hydration, diet, habit, and or oral hygiene protocols to achieve the best effect etc.
Dry Mouth Symptoms
Some of the symptoms of dry mouth include: burning feeling in the mouth, difficulty chewing, swallowing, cracked and dry lips, difficulty tasting, dry and sore throat, dry, fissured tongue, dental cares and gum disease, mouth infection (candidiasis), cracked corners of the mouth (angular cheilitis), oral lesions, bad breath, altered taste, intolerance for spicy, salty, sour foods or drinks, inability to retain dentures nutritional deficiencies such as dehydration, dry eye.
How to Get Rid of Dry Mouth
Symptoms mentioned above are important signs which may signal you have dry mouth. It is important to see a medical professional to be tested and to determine what the cause is in your specific case. Dry mouth can be a part of a normal physiologic process, but it also can be a symptom of a more serious underlying condition which may need to be medically managed. It is important to be properly diagnosed and treated or have these medical conditions managed.
Dry Mouth Mouthwash
Smile Genius Certified 100% Organic Non-Alcoholic Mouthwash 1:10 Concentrate for Dry Mouth Relief contains essential oils and vegetable-based NON-GMO glycerin which are designed to provide lubrication and relief from dry mouth. After brushing your teeth, rinse with mouthwash and gently spit.
Hydration is not just casual sipping on water whenever we experience dry mouth or thirst. Proper hydration is a calculated intention to make sure we provide our bodies with the water that it needs to function properly. If our body does not have enough water it will not produce much saliva.
General Guidelines for Staying Hydrated:
- Drink 2-4 liters per day on average
- Add water to your diet,
- Carry water with you at all times for easy access
- Replace caloric and diet beverages (including sugar-sweetened sodas, teas, coffees, juices, milk) with water.
Caffeine, spicy, acidic, fried and saturated “bad” fat foods dry out the oral mucosa and exacerbate the symptoms of decreased salivary flow. Acidic, sweet carbonated drinks or acidic candies, are known to not only cause dry mouth but also tooth erosion and cavities. Their intake should be limited and substituted by healthier options such as non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic products and “good” fats.
Dry Mouth Diet Tips:
- Reducing consumption of inflammation-stimulating foods such as white bread, gluten, diary, fried foods, sugar, soda, donuts, processed foods/meats, canned foods, alcohol.
- Consume alkaline diet rich in leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale etc. to help neutralize acidic conditions in the mouth and to serve as a source of necessary vitamins and minerals.
- Consume fruits rich in antioxidants such as all types of berries, pomegranate etc. will also provide the necessary vitamins and minerals to help maintain a healthy oral environment. Additionally, fruits can serve as sugar alternatives in smoothies, shakes etc. or be excellent for desert.
- Consume healthy fats such as avocado, coconut oil, ground flaxseed and chia seed in place of fried foods.
Alcohol and tobacco are also known to cause dry mouth. Avoid drinking not only alcoholic beverages but also using ingestible products containing alcohol such as alcohol-containing mouthwashes.
Smoking is not only a major cause of dry mouth it can also cause gum (gingivitis), jaw-bone disease (periodontitis) as well as cancer. Cessation is recommended.
Read More: 7 Best Dry Mouth Remedies
Omega 3 Fatty Acid Supplements
Omega 3 Fatty Acid Supplements can help reduce inflammation in the body and had been associated with sometimes helping prevent mental degeneration, strokes, heart attract, insomnia etc. Although there aren't studies that show direct effect, many individuals report improved dry mouth symptoms.
Read here about 11 Best Vitamins for Dry Mouth and Oral Health
There are many forms of night-guards. There are ones you can get over the counter and ones that are made by the dentist. Ask your dentist which is the best option for you.
Chapped Lip Therapy
Dry mouth can lead to chapped lips which can be uncomfortable and even painful. Use of proper balms and lip lubricants, protection from sun exposure, hydration, lip exfoliation, diet etc. are important steps you can take.
Avoid toothpastes containing Sodium Lauryl Sulfate as it can be a tissue irritant.
Other Treatment Options
There is also the possibility of prescription medications for dry mouth. Speak to your dentist/doctor whether it is something that is recommended for you.
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2) Turner MD, Ship JA. Dry mouth and its effects on the oral health of elderly people. J Am Dent Assoc 2007;138 Suppl:15s-20s.
3) "How Is Sleep Apnea Treated?". NHLBI. July 10, 2012 From the original on 27 August 2016. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
4) Essentials of Human Physiology by Thomas M. Nosek. Section
5) Mariotti A. The effects of chronic stress on health: new insights into the molecular mechanisms of brain-body communication. Future Sci OA. 2015;1
6) Jeffers L, Webster-Cyriaque JY. Viruses and salivary gland disease (SGD): lessons from HIV SGD. Adv Dent Res. 2011;23(1):79–83.
7) Ugga L, Ravanelli M, Pallottino AA, Farina D, Maroldi R. Diagnostic work-up in obstructive and inflammatory salivary gland disorders. Work-up diagnostico nella patologia ostruttiva e infiammatoria delle ghiandole salivari. Acta Otorhinolaryngol Ital. 2017;37(2):83–93