Dry mouth, or xerostomia to medical professionals, occurs in 25% of older adults and has even been reported to occur in 10% of adults in their 30′s. Dry mouth is a condition that can have a negative impact on your oral health. It also impacts your ability to eat food and speak, and has been said to cause bad breath.
Basically, if you have dry mouth you are missing out on many of the benefits that your spit provides to your mouth. I’ll talk about all of the effects of dry mouth in a future article. What I want to talk about right now is what causes dry mouth. Dry mouth is caused by a variety of different factors. I’ve listed six main causes of dry mouth, which you can find below.
Five Causes of Dry Mouth, Xerostomia
1 – Medications – This is one of the most common causes of dry mouth. There are literally hundreds of medications that cause dry mouth. Some of the more common ones are anti-depressants, sedatives, beta-blockers, high blood pressure medication, antihistamines, and cold/flu medications. Other drugs, such as tobacco and alcohol, can directly dry out the mouth.
2 – Anxiety, Depression, or Stress – These conditions have been shown to cause dry mouth. The best way to treat it is to find effective ways to manage your anxiety, depression, or stress.
3 – Diabetes – There is some debate whether diabetes causes dry mouth or not. Here’s what the book Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology by Neville has to say about diabetes and dry mouth:
Xerostomia, a subjective feeling of dryness of the oral mucosa, has been reported as a complaint in one third of diabetic patients. Unfortunately, studies that attempt to confirm an actual decrease in salivary flow rate in diabetic patients have produced conflicting results. Some studies show a decrease in salivary flow; some, no difference from normal; and some, an increased salivary flow rate.
4 – Autoimmune Diseases such as Sjögren’s syndrome, HIV, and Graft-versus-Host disease. Sjögren’s syndrome causes dry mouth and dry eyes. In other immunologic diseases, it is suspected that the body’s immune system is attacking the salivary glands, thus decreasing the amount of saliva that is produced.
5 – Radiation treatment to the head and/or neck area – Radiation treatment to the head and neck area can cause damage to the salivary glands. Some of the glands can recover and produce saliva normally after radiation treatment. The biggest salivary gland, however, usually has trouble recovering and can be permanently damaged, leading to chronic dry mouth.
If you have dry mouth associated with menopause, you may want to see your dentist to see what kind of treatment is available.