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What Causes Dry Mouth?

If you experience dry mouth, you’re certainly not alone.

According to the American Dental Association, up to 65 percent of the population experiences dry mouth. The condition is characterized by a sticky, dry feeling in your mouth and throat. You may also feel like your mouth is burning or have difficulty swallowing, chewing or talking.

We see plenty of patients at our St. Pete dental office who complain about the effects of dry mouth. We can usually identify the reason you’re experiencing dry mouth and recommend steps to improve the condition.

But what causes this irritating problem? There are myriad reasons why you might experience this condition.

Why Does Your Mouth Get Dry?

Klement Family DentalGenerally speaking, you get dry mouth when your salivary glands don’t function properly. If the glands don’t work correctly, you may not have enough saliva to moisten your mouth. There are several reasons why this might occur.

1. Medication side effects. A wide range of over-the-counter and prescription medications can cause dry mouth. In fact, more than 400 different medicines cause your salivary glands to produce decreased saliva. Medications for allergies, high blood pressure, pain, nasal congestion and depression are frequent culprits. If you experience dry mouth related to a medication, talk with your doctor about an alternative, if possible.

2. Illnesses. If you have a chronic condition, your salivary function may decrease. Sjögren’s syndrome, uncontrolled diabetes, lymphoma, hepatitis C and stroke can all cause dry mouth.

3. Cancer treatment. Your salivary glands can be damaged if exposed to radiation during cancer treatment. Additionally, chemotherapy drugs can make your saliva become thicker which makes your mouth feel dry.

4. Nerve damage. If you’ve experienced a traumatic injury to your head or neck, resulting nerve damage can impact your salivary glands production. It may be that the glands just don’t receive a signal from your brain to create saliva.

5. Pregnancy. Pregnant women often experience dry mouth as a side effect of hormones in her body. The condition usually goes away after the baby is born.

6. Aging. As you get older, there’s a better chance you’ll experience dry mouth. It may be due to a medical condition like diabetes or Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, but it’s likely a side effect of your medications. Dry mouth is a common problem among people who take more than four prescription medications.

7. Lifestyle choices. Smokers and heavy drinkers may experience dry mouth. You may also experience dry mouth if you drink a lot of caffeine or eat lots of spicy foods.

Dry mouth is not only an irritating problem, but it can be harmful to your oral health. Read more about the effects of dry mouth on our blog. And if you have questions about dry mouth, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your dentist in St. Petersburg, Florida for assistance.