Most people have experienced a time or two when their mouth felt drier or more parched than it ever was previously. It may have even made speaking, eating and swallowing uncomfortable. Dry mouth (xerostomia) is a temporary decrease in the amount of saliva your body produces, and unfortunately, some suffer from it repeatedly – which can compromise another aspect of their oral health.
If you're suffering from constant dry mouth, knowing the cause and how to find relief can go a long way in preventing more serious dental complications.
Causes of Dry Mouth
Sometimes, a dry mouth is simply the result of not drinking enough water during the day or re-hydrating after strenuous exercise. Temporary dry mouth can also come from stress or nerves – the kind you may experience before speaking in front of a large group of people. More often, however, dry mouth is a side-effect of medication. The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) estimates there are over 400 medications that cause dry mouth, with diuretics, pain medications, antidepressants and antihistamines among the culprits.
Chronic cases of xerostomia may be a sign of a serious health condition, such as Sjogren's syndrome – an autoimmune disease – as well as AIDS, diabetes, cancer of the salivary glands or alcoholism. People undergoing radiation or chemotherapy for cancer frequently deal with dry mouth over the course of their treatment.