Dry mouth, (or Xerostomia), indicates a sensation of dryness in the oral cavity, most commonly the tongue and roof of the mouth. Typically, it is caused by an absence or reduction of saliva from the salivary glands.
Why you need saliva
Apart from being discomforting, dry mouth and lack of saliva is bad for your overall health; saliva helps in the digestive process as well as prevention of bacterial and fungal growth in the mouth. It rinses food away from your teeth and helps prevent tooth decay. If your salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva, you might suffer from dry mouth.
Causes of Dry Mouth
There are many causes of dry mouth. Over 1000 medications, including drugs for treating anxiety, obesity, acne, allergies, and cancer are known to alter the production of saliva and cause dry mouth as a side effect. Both prescription and non-prescription drugs can cause a dry mouth. The greater the number of these drugs taken per day, the greater the oral dryness. Some of the most common drug classes that can cause dry mouth include:
- Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatories
- Blood pressure drugs
Additionally, chronic systemic diseases can also cause dry mouth, these include:
- Sjögren’s Syndrome
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Lupus Erythematosus
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Alzheimer’s Disease
Other common causes of dry mouth include:
- Radiation therapy or surgery in the head and neck region
- Hormonal Changes
- Public Speaking
It’s important to understand that dry mouth is not a separate disease but a condition potentially caused by a variety of factors.
Common problems stemming from dry mouth include tooth decay, disturbed sleep, as dry mouth is worst at night, a constant burning sensation in the throat, difficulty speaking or swallowing, dry nasal passages, gum disease, and oral infections.