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Causes, effects and remedies for dry mouth

GEHA | August 22, 2022

Saliva plays a large role in our everyday life.

Saliva aids in many unconscious functions. It helps you in taste, chew and swallow and prevents dental decay. Saliva also aids in washing away food remnants from hard-to-reach places in the mouth. Dry mouth can cause many health issues, but most of the time appears without direct cause.

Some possible causes of dry mouth include:

Medications: Some prescription medications can impact the production of saliva. Anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, anti-hypertensives, antihistamines, decongestants and many others have been linked to side effects of dry mouth.

Tobacco and alcohol use: The consumption of alcohol and tobacco products can worsen dry mouth symptoms. For more information on how to stop smoking, read this blog post to see how GEHA can help you learn how to stop smoking

Cancer treatment: Chemotherapy can considerably affect the amount of saliva production during treatment. Radiation to the head and neck can also damage the salivary glands, which, in some cases, is irreversible.

Medical conditions: While dry mouth is not a medical condition itself, it can be a symptom of many. Conditions such as diabetes, stroke, autoimmune disorders or HIV/AIDS can be causes of dry mouth.

Some possible effects of dry mouth include tooth decay, dry and cracked lips, altered taste, bad breath, difficulty talking and difficulty chewing. There is no definite treatment for dry mouth, some home remedies include staying hydrated, chewing sugar free gum, reducing the consumption of caffeine, tobacco and alcohol, practicing good oral hygiene and avoiding salty foods. Read this post to learn more about hydrating foods.

If you experience dry mouth, there are ways to manage your symptoms. Follow the assessment of your care provider and see the dentist regularly. Other steps in the management of dry mouth include:

  • A review of your current medication regimen and possible adjustment based on the evaluation of your care provider. Do not stop or change your medication without consulting your care provider.
  • Use of topical fluorides, antimicrobial mouth rinses, and a low sugar diet is important to prevent tooth decay.
  • The prescription of oral lubricants, oral moisturizers and artificial saliva to moisten the oral cavity and improve chewing and swallowing activities.
  • Your provider might prescribe you medications such as Pilocarpine (Salagen®) to increase your natural saliva production or Cevimeline (Evoxac®) for individuals whose dry mouth is associated with Sjogren's syndrome.

Some home remedies of dry mouth can include:

Staying hydrated: Frequent sips of water all through the day can help reduce some of the symptoms of dryness in the mouth, also drinking while eating.

Chew sugar-free gum: Chewing gum can stimulate the flow of saliva.

Use a humidifier: Use bedside humidifiers when you retire to bed at night to aid in hydration.

Reduce consumption of related substances: Some beverages and substances can make you prone to dry mouth, such as caffeine, tobacco and alcohol and alcohol-containing products such as mouthwashes.

Practice good oral hygiene: Brush your teeth twice daily, if possible, after every meal with fluoridated toothpaste and floss hard to reach places.

Disclaimer: This information contained herein is for informational and educational purposes only. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice and if you have questions regarding a medical condition, regimen, or treatment you should always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider. Never disregard or delay seeking medical advice from a qualified medical professional because of information you have read herein. 

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