Treating Dry Mouth
Dry mouth means you don't have enough saliva, or spit, to keep your mouth moist. Everyone has a dry mouth once in a while, especially if you're nervous, upset or under stress.
If you have a dry mouth all or most of the time, it can be uncomfortable and can lead to more serious health problems or indicate that a more serious medical condition may exist. That's because saliva does more than just keep the mouth wet —it helps digest food, protects teeth from decay, prevents infection by controlling bacteria in the mouth, and makes it possible for you to chew and swallow.
There are several reasons that the glands that produce saliva, called the salivary glands, might not function properly. These include:
Side effects of some medications — over 400 medicines can cause dry mouth, including antihistamines, decongestants, pain killers, diuretics and medicines for high blood pressure and depression.
Disease — diseases that affect the salivary glands, such as diabetes, Hodgkin's, Parkinson's disease, HIV/AIDS and Sjogren's syndrome, may lead to dry mouth.
Radiation therapy — the salivary glands can be damaged if your head or neck are exposed to radiation during cancer treatment. The loss of saliva can be total or partial, permanent or temporary.
Chemotherapy — drugs used to treat cancer can make saliva thicker, or "ropey," causing your mouth to feel dry.
Menopause — changing hormone levels affect the salivary glands, often leaving menopausal and post-menopausal women with a persistent feeling of dry mouth.
Smoking — many pipe, cigar and heavy cigarette smokers experience dry mouth.
Everyone's mouth feels dry from time to time. It's when this feeling doesn't go away that you may have a problem with saliva production. Symptoms of dry mouth include:
- A sticky, dry feeling in your mouth
- Trouble swallowing
- A burning sensation on your tongue
- A dry feeling in your throat
- Cracked lips
- Reduced ability to taste things or a metallic taste in your mouth
- Mouth sores
- Frequent bad breath
- Difficulty chewing/speaking
The only permanent way to cure dry mouth is to treat its cause. If your dry mouth is the result of medication, your doctor might change your prescription or your dosage. If your salivary glands are not working properly but still produce some saliva, your doctor might give you a medicine that helps the glands work better.
To discuss the causes of dry mouth or to ask any other questions, please contact us immediately at 513-923-1215 or fill out the appointment request form to schedule now.