Dry mouth occurs due to lack of normal saliva flow and needs to be monitored so it does not cause more serious effects in the oral cavity. Dry mouth is most commonly reported among the elderly and is often related to systemic diseases they suffer from or the medications taken to manage those diseases.1 Over 500 medications cause dry mouth and when the elderly take multiple medications, the chance of dry mouth may increase.2
What Causes Dry Mouth?
Many prescription medications can cause dry mouth, including: antihistamines, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, cardiovascular drugs, antiemedics, antipsychotics, sedatives and decongestants. Long term use of over-the-counter medications, surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy can also result in dry mouth. Radiation therapy in the head and neck area causes the most significant cases of dry mouth versus surgery and chemotherapy. After radiation therapy to the head and neck region, irradiated salivary glands produce little or no salivary secretions and can be a major discomfort for oral and pharyngeal cancer patients.
Diseases such as Sjogren’s Syndrome and connective tissue disease (rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, systemic sclerosis, polymyosistis or mixed connective disease), and conditions like type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis, scleroderma, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel syndrome, cystic fibrosis and sarcoidosis may also cause or contribute to dry mouth.
Dry mouth can also be caused by simple nutritional deficiencies such as vitamin A and riboflavin deficiencies.