What Causes Dry Mouth?

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What is dry mouth? Dry mouth is a medical condition where the saliva production by the glands in the mouth is diminished and your mouth feels unusually dry. Saliva is critical to a healthy mouth because it helps protect the oral tissues against ulcers or sores that can arise during friction when eating and speaking, and neutralizes acids and protects against tooth decay and bacterial threats. It also helps digest food and helps you taste your food.

Common causes of dry mouth can include dehydration, caffeine, alcohol or tobacco use—whether chewing or smoking; breathing through your mouth and snoring when you sleep. Dehydration can also be caused by fever, excessive sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, blood loss, and burns. What are some of the other causes of dry mouth?

–Dry mouth is a common side effect of certain medications, both prescription and nonprescription drugs. If you are taking any of the following medications, watch out for dry mouth: depression and anxiety, pain, allergy, antihistamines and decongestants for colds, obesity, acne, epilepsy, hypertension (diuretics), muscle relaxants, sedatives, diarrhea, nausea, psychotic disorders, urinary incontinence, asthma, and Parkinson’s disease.

–Medical conditions causing dry mouth include autoimmune disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, Sjögren’s syndrome, HIV/AIDS, anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, cystic fibrosis, hypertension, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and even mumps. Stroke and Alzheimer’s disease may make you think you have dry mouth, even though the salivary glands are actually working.

–Nerve damage to the head and neck area from an injury or surgery.

–Cancer therapy can damage the salivary glands, and chemotherapy drugs can change saliva as well. Saliva flow usually comes back after treatment is done, but with radiation treatments saliva production can decrease–temporarily or permanently, depending on the radiation dose and the area treated.

Give our team at New Prague Gentle Dental Care a call at 952-758-3003 today if you have any questions or concerns, or would like to see our dentist, Dr. Gregory Dvorak.

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