Dry mouth is a daily problem that makes you feel uncomfortable while you swallow, eat or speak. It is a condition in which you do not produce enough saliva (spit) to keep your mouth feeling wet. Your physician or nurse do not always talk about dry mouth as a side effect when they give you a prescription for medicine, but dry mouth can be caused by the medicine you take. Whatever you do, don't stop taking your medicine but mention dry mouth to your nurse as soon as you can. Dry mouth can also be a sign of diseases and other conditions like diabetes - so make sure you tell your nurse or dental professional about dry mouth if it becomes a problem for you.
Stress and anxiety can contribute to dry mouth, as can the medications you might take for them. It is important to communicate with your dental professional about issues concerning your overall health because anything that increases your risk for dry mouth also increases your risk for gum disease. Your dental professional may advise you to pay special attention to your daily oral care routine, and to schedule an additional dental cleaning during a time of increased risk, such as during pregnancy or before starting chemotherapy.
If you suddenly experience symptoms of dry mouth, it may be because you’ve started taking a certain type of medication. Medications are a major cause of dry mouth. In fact, medications cause approximately 90 percent of all cases of dry mouth, according to the Academy of General Dentistry. You may not be able to discontinue your medication, but you should keep your dentist informed when something in your overall health changes and you start taking medication. For example, antidepressants, antihistamines, anti-inflammatories and anti-hypertensive medications are just some of the many types of drugs that can contribute to a dry mouth. In addition, chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, kidney disease, or lupus and medical treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, can also cause it.
If your dry mouth is persistent and severe, talk to your doctor about whether you can reduce the dose of the medication that is causing the problem, or possibly switch to a different medication. Everyone responds differently to medications, so switching to another drug that serves the same purpose may yield the same benefits with less dry mouth.
Most of us don’t think about the moisture in our mouths until our mouths become dry. A variety of conditions can cause dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, including the following:
Does your mouth feel dry and sticky when you first wake up in the morning? Do you feel the urge to drink lots of water? Dry mouth can make it hard for you to swallow, chew your food or speak clearly. With a dry mouth your teeth can decay very quickly, and sometimes there are no warning signs for this condition. Untreated dry mouth can also contribute to bad breath, and sometimes others will notice the stale odor.
If you think you may have dry mouth but are unsure, ask yourself the following questions.
If you responded “yes” to one or more questions, talk to your physician and visit your dental professional for information on what you can do to help alleviate the problem.
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