Dry mouth (or xerostomia) is a condition that plagues many patients. This condition can be uncomfortable and lead to problems like sores in the mouth, cracked lips, sore throat, and bad breath. Luckily, treatments do exist to remedy dry salivary glands. If you’re experiencing dryness or a sticky feeling in your mouth, thick saliva, difficulty swallowing, or a sore throat and think you may have xerostomia, contact us at Martin Taylor Dentistry about possible solutions. It can also help to know the most common causes of dry mouth. Here are three!
Some Chronic Diseases
According to a comprehensive study of xerostomia by the American Dental Association (ADA), some systemic diseases can cause dry mouth. If a doctor has diagnosed you with an autoimmune or inflammatory condition, degenerative disease, infection, lymphoma, granulomatous disease, graft-versus-host disease or diabetes, xerostomia is a likely reaction to your condition.
The ADA states that about four million people in the U.S. have Sjögren syndrome, which commonly causes dry mouth. About 90% of people with this syndrome are women. Disease-related dry mouth can be a lifelong outcome of the chronic condition, but that doesn’t mean patients have to deal with frustrating symptoms for life. Being proactive about dry mouth treatment can lead to better all-around quality of life.
Medications are one of the most common causes of dry mouth. Over 500 drugs can cause dry mouth, with the most common being painkillers, antidepressants, antipsychotics, anticholinergics (for gastrointestinal diseases), antihistamines (for allergies), diuretics, and skeletal muscle relaxants. Drugs doctors prescribe for allergies, congestion, diarrhea, and motion sickness most often cause dry mouth.
Most medications don’t damage the salivary glands, but rather decrease salivary flow. Medication-based dry mouth may or may not be permanent. Ask your doctor about the possibility of dry mouth before taking a prescription or over-the-counter medication. Find out if you’re a good candidate for the drug and the risk of temporary or permanent dry mouth as a side effect.
Doctors have also linked certain medical treatments to dry mouth. The most prevalent is radiation therapy to the head and neck, which commonly results in salivary gland damage. The first week of treatment can decrease the flow of saliva rapidly, followed by possible permanent loss of the ability to salivate.
The degree of damage the radiation treatment causes depends on the dosage of the radiation and tissue volume. Chemotherapy as a cancer treatment may also cause dry mouth. Unfortunately, stopping the medical treatment will not solve dry mouth if the damage to salivary glands is permanent. Working with your dentist to come up with the simplest solution can help you enjoy a better quality of life while living with xerostomia.
Get Help for Dry Mouth Today
Living with dry mouth can be difficult. Dealing with chronic xerostomia can increase your risk of dental problems, including tooth sensitivity, loss of important minerals, and oral diseases – not to mention having trouble swallowing, eating, and talking. Get a solution through Martin Taylor Dentistry. We can diagnose xerostomia and recommend the perfect dental solution for your situation.
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