Dry mouth is more than just an irritating problem. It’s a potentially serious health condition that can severely affect your oral health and quality of life. While dry mouth is common among older adults, it is not a normal part of aging and can and should be prevented and treated.
What causes dry mouth?
One in three older adults has dry mouth, which is frequently a side effect of medications. More than 1,800 prescription drugs – many of them used for common conditions such as high blood pressure, depression, allergies, and pain – are known to cause dry mouth. Moreover, the more drugs you take, the more likely you will be troubled by dry mouth. Over-the-counter medications, antihistamines, and decongestants, also can cause it, along with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and illnesses such as diabetes, Parkinson’s, and Sjogren’s Syndrome. Read a partial list of prescriptions and over-the-counter medications than can cause dry mouth.
Why is lack of saliva such a problem?
- Harder to wash away food particles and bacteria
- Acids that cause tooth decay aren’t neutralized as quickly
- Teeth absorb less minerals like calcium and fluoride
What are the symptoms of dry mouth?
Common symptoms of dry mouth include:
- a sticky, dry feeling in the mouth and/or throat
- frequent thirst
- bad breath
- cracked lips or corners of the mouth
- burning or tingling feeling in the mouth, especially on the tongue
- sores in and around the mouth
- sore throat and hoarseness
Why is dry mouth serious?
Dry mouth can cause tooth decay, especially root decay, which can lead to infection and tooth loss.
What other ways can dry mouth affect me?
It can affect your quality of life by making it difficult to eat, taste food, swallow, and speak.
Is there anything I can do about it?
Yes. Learn how to prevent and treat dry mouth.