Your Guide to Dry Mouth – Causes, Treatments and Consequences

Dry Mouth Overview

Saliva Isn’t Appreciated Until It’s Gone

Dry mouth conditions, also known as xerostomia, affects at least one-third of adults in the United States. Normal human salivary glands produce about 4-6 cups of saliva per day, but when this amount drops significantly dry mouth symptoms can develop quickly. Symptoms of xerostomia can range from mild dryness to pain and burning in the mouth. Some common consequences of this condition are:

  • halitosis
  • gum disease
  • increased tooth decay

Dry Mouth Can Have Serious Consequences For Your Health

Dry mouth conditions can produce serious negative effects in quality of life of an individual. It can lead to changes in a person’s dietary habits that can negatively affect their nutritional state, effect speech, and taste, and hinder one’s ability to wear full or partial dentures.

The most common cause of xerostomia is the aging process. The aging process causes the saliva glands to produce less saliva. Certain medications being used for ailing health can also cause xerostomia to increase.

The causes of dry mouth are numerous but the most common cause of this salivary dysfunction is related to taking multiple kinds of medication. There are over 600 prescription and non-prescription drugs that can induce xerostomia. The most common of these are allergy medications, anti-depressives, blood pressure medications, and diuretics.

Other causes include:

  • dehydration
  • alcohol-based mouth rinses
  • chemotherapy treatment
  • diabetes
  • autoimmune diseases
  • Sjögrens Syndrome

Sjögrens Syndrome is an autoimmune disease that attacks the body’s own moisture-producing glands throughout the body. It can affect numerous organs in the body, the mouth, joint pain, the nervous system – and cause severe fatigue.  According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, approximately 23.5 million people in the United States suffer from some forms of this disease.

Inflammation of the salivary glands and ducts can also result in a decreased salivary flow and blocked salivary ducts due to salivary stones will also produce a xerostomia condition.

People suffering from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease will often be taking medications that will reduce salivary flow and lead to dry mouth symptoms.