What Is Dry Mouth?

Is your mouth often dry with little saliva? Does your mouth feel sticky or do you have any difficulty swallowing or chewing? Is your tongue dry or does it feel grooved?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, you may have a condition called dry mouth. Other symptoms can include bad breath, thick saliva, a dry or sore throat or problems with wearing your dentures.

A dry mouth is caused when the mouth’s salivary glands aren’t making enough saliva to keep your mouth wet. Some of the reasons that the glands don’t work properly include:

  • Certain medications and over-the-counter drugs.
  • Chemotherapy or radiation treatments.
  • Nerve damage from an injury to your head or neck.
  • Health conditions such as diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease or autoimmune diseases.
  • Breathing or snoring with your mouth open.
  • Drinking alcohol, smoking or chewing tobacco.
  • Recreational drug use such as marijuana and methamphetamine.

Normal aging is another common cause of dry mouth. As we age, dry mouth may result because of medication changes, inadequate nutrition, long-term health problems or from certain drugs.

Dry Mouth and Gum Recession: A Bad Combination

Dry mouth and gum recession is a particularly bad combination. Gum recession occurs when the gum tissue that surrounds the teeth wears away and exposes the softer dentin layer, making decay more likely.

Normally our saliva is very helpful in washing away bacteria and food particles. But with dry mouth and gum recession, decay may set in quickly because the dry mouth condition prevents the normal saliva from washing away harmful particles.

If gum recession is present along with a dry mouth, we recommend an extra brushing during the day to clean away food particles. A water flosser such as a Waterpik® can be very helpful in removing food impactions.

Let Us Know If You Have Questions on Any Aspect of Oral Health Care

Dr. Lorraine Burio of Candlewood Dental Care has been treating and educating patients for over twenty-five years. Our office serves the New Fairfield, New Milford, Danbury, and Sherman areas of CT and Pawling, Patterson and Putnam Lake of New York. You can call us at 203-746-1200 or make an appointment here.