Dry Mouth: Causes and Problems
Saliva is produced by three sets of major glands, the submandibular glands, the sublingual glands and the parotid glands. There are also numerous minor glands located in the mouth and throat. Saliva is important in lubricating and cleansing the mouth. There are antibodies in the saliva that help control the bacterial grow in the mouth. These bacteria can cause gum disease (from inflammation of the gum tissue and bone) and tooth decay (from acidic environment produced by the bacteria). Saliva helps dilute the acid produced by these bacteria. Saliva contains enzymes that begin the digestive process. Saliva also aids in swallowing. If people have reduced salivary flow, their mouths tend to be very dry (xerostomia). Dry mouths are associated with an increase in tooth decay rates and periodontal disease (gum disease). Causes include side effect of certain medications (even recreational drugs), aging, radiation treatment for cancer, nerve damage, health conditions (diabetes, stroke, yeast infections, autoimmune diseases), Tobacco and alcohol misuse.
- Dryness or a feeling of stickiness in your mouth
- Saliva that seems thick and stringy
- Bad breath
- Difficulty chewing, speaking and swallowing
- Dry or sore throat and hoarseness
- Dry or grooved tongue
- A changed sense of taste
- Problems wearing dentures
- lipstick sticking to the teeth.1
Dry mouth can lead to increased plaque, tooth decay and gum disease, mouth sores, yeast infection in your mouth (thrush), sores or split skin at the corners of your mouth, or cracked lips.1 If you have this problem, see your dentist for an exam to evaluate the possible dental complications associated with this problem.