From protecting teeth against cavity development to assisting in proper digestion, saliva keeps the mouth moist and might just be the best defense for your oral health. That being said, many people experience the signs of decreased saliva production, notably dry mouth (xerostomia). Beyond being generally uncomfortable, xerostomia causes patients to be frequently thirsty, have chronic bad breath, and cracked, raw lips.
Dry mouth is commonly identified first by dentists during routine visits. The following are factors linked to these common set of symptoms:
Natural and Systemic Causes of Dry Mouth
As with most concerns, lifestyle choices strongly influence the presence of xerostomia. These include:
- Tobacco Use
- Not Drinking Enough Water
- Eating Spicy Foods
- Excessive Caffeine Intake
- Mouth Breathing
Aging is another known contributing factor for dry mouth, and the percentage of adults with this oral health problem increases as they grow older, and the percentage of adults with this oral health problem increases as they grow older. This is likely due to the fact that patients in these age groups are taking multiple prescription medications and are at greater risk for concerns associated with dry mouth.
Issues that impact oral health and general wellbeing have dry mouth as a symptom or cause any existing signs to become worse. Uncontrolled diabetes or hypertension, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease are just some of the problems that exemplify this oral-systemic connection. Of particular note is Sjögren’s syndrome, an immune system disorder that keeps moisture-producing glands in the eyes and mouth from functioning properly, if at all. Those with this long-term condition experience other autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis. As you might be able to guess by now, this disease also has dry mouth as an indication.
Xerostomia and Medications
Hundreds of medications and active drug ingredients either list dry mouth as a known side effect or have been associated with the concern by ongoing research studies. Of these, the most common medication types that result in xerostomia include antihistamines, decongestants, painkillers, diuretics, high blood pressure medications, and antidepressants. Studies have shown that taking more than one of these medications comes with an increased likelihood of experiencing dry mouth.
While these contribute to dry mouth, this does not mean that you should stop treatment for the health issues these medications address. Your dentist can make recommendations to minimize the effects of xerostomia as you take these medications. More likely, they will speak with your doctor to see if the dosage can be adjusted or an alternative drug can be prescribed. In either case, it is important that you let both your dentist and general practitioner know that you are experiencing chronic dry mouth.
Learn More About Your Oral Health – Visit Our Practice Today!
With both the condition of your smile and your health as a whole, having a better understanding makes it easier to preserve your long-term wellness proactively. Dr. Martina Reynolds is dedicated to being as much an educator as a dental care professional, providing her patients with the treatment they need and the insight they deserve. Call today and discover more about our comprehensive approach to dentistry for communities in Central Park and across Manhattan.