Get the Facts About Dry Mouth Causes and Treatments

Wednesday, August 16, 2023
Get the Facts About Dry Mouth Causes and Treatments

Does your mouth feel parched, or even like it’s burning, too much of the time?

Does your tongue feel sticky and thick, as though coated in cotton? Does your throat feel scratchy and raw, making swallowing a real challenge?

Do you wake up at night thirsting for a glass of water?

All these sensations are among the frequent symptoms of dry mouth, or xerostomia. Chronic dry mouth causes pain, discomfort, and distress for around one in four adults, according to the Oral Health Foundation.

Dr. Roopali Kulkarni, Assistant Professor of Oral Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, recently answered questions about dry mouth causes, symptoms, and treatments that our patients at Penn Dental Medicine (PDM) ask.

Watch the video above and read this edited transcript of Dr. Kulkarni’s answers to better understand why dry mouth occurs and how to treat it.

What Exactly Is Dry Mouth, and What Causes It?

Dry mouth is either the subjective feeling of dryness in the mouth or an objective measure of reduced saliva in the mouth.

There are many reasons someone might experience dry mouth. The most common reason is that dry mouth can be a side effect of medication use. (It is also a common side effect of radiation therapy for cancer.)

Dry mouth can be a stand-alone symptom, or it can actually be a symptom of something more serious. If you’re experiencing dry mouth, it’s very important to mention it to your dentist.

Are There Any Effects Dry Mouth Can Have On Your Oral Health?

Dry mouth can increase the risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and even of developing thrush or yeast infections in the mouth.

What Causes an Extremely Dry Mouth While Sleeping or at Night?

People tend to experience dry mouth at night. We might keep our mouths open while we’re sleeping, causing more dryness.

Dry mouth can also interrupt people’s sleep, so they feel as though they need to get up or perhaps have a drink of water.

One of my biggest recommendations is using a humidifier at night to help relieve some of those dry mouth symptoms.

Do Home Remedies or Mouthwash Help With Dry Mouth?

The No. 1 thing that can help is increasing water intake. Perhaps carry a water bottle with you throughout the day. You can keep sipping water to help relieve some of those dry mouth symptoms.

You can get a number of dry mouth products over the counter that can also relieve the symptoms. They could be dry mouth lozenges, dry mouth mouthwash, or even toothpaste. It is important to see if products have a seal of approval.

Is Dry Mouth Something That Can Be Treated or Cured?

Depending upon the dry mouth causes—whether it’s medications, whether it’s a medical condition—the symptoms of dry mouth can certainly be managed.

I recommend letting your dentist know you’re experiencing dryness so they can determine the reason and help you manage it accordingly. Dryness can be alleviated by drinking water or using different products, but it can also be treated with certain medications. To know if you’re a candidate for those medications, it’s important to talk to your dentist.

If you don’t currently have a dentist, you can establish care with one. I recommend you choose one at Penn Dental Medicine.

Choosing the Right Dentist for Your Dry Mouth Treatment

If you’re looking for a provider experienced in treating dry mouth, as well as a wide range of other oral health-care issues at a price you can afford, we encourage you to download our free chart, “Penn Dental Medicine: Statistically Unique”.

It will help make sure you don’t overlook any important considerations when choosing someone to care for your and your family’s oral health.

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