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Bull Valley Dentistry Explains “Dry Mouth”

Posted October 9, 2014.

Xerostomia is the medical term for a dry mouth due to lack of saliva. Dry mouth can cause difficulty eating and talking and can also lead to halitosis (bad breath). Without saliva to lubricate the mouth, wash away food particles, balance the acidity of the mouth, and remineralize the teeth, cavities and other infections can easily form.

Seniors are particularly susceptible to dry mouth because they often take multiple medications to control diseases they have developed throughout their lifetime. The combination of exposed root surfaces and dry mouth increases the likelihood of cavities forming.

Causes of Dry Mouth

Medication: Medication is the most common cause of dry mouth; over 400 common prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs are

known to cause dry mouth. Radiation and Chemotherapy: Individuals who undergo radiation or chemo-therapy for head and neck cancers experience xerostomia. The salivary glands can be permanently damaged and saliva can be reduced and/or its consistency changed.

Disease: Dry mouth may be a sign of an underlying disease such as diabetes or Sjögren’s syndrome, a disorder in which immune cells attack and destroy the tear and saliva glands.


Although there is no cure for xerostomia, there are steps you can take to help manage this condition. Drink plenty of water and/or sugar free beverages. Chew sugar free gum containing xylitol; gum stimulates saliva production and xylitol helps protect teeth against cavities.

Avoid tobacco, caffeine, and alcohol. Use a saliva replacement gel to help lubricate your mouth; they are available at drug stores. Talk to your physician about changing your medications to ones that do not cause dry mouth.

Finally, be sure to visit your Bull Valley Dentistry Dentist regularly can provide protective fluoride treatments and other care essential to keeping your teeth and mouth healthy.

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