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’s not a normal part of aging and can and should be prevented and treated.
Here are a few common questions and answers about dry mouth:
What causes dry mouth?
One in three older adults has dry mouth, which is frequently a side effect of medications. Many 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’ll be troubled by dry mouth. Over-the-counter medications, antihistamines, and decongestants, can also 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 the lack of saliva such a problem?
A lack of saliva can lead to:
- Food particles and bacteria not being properly washed away.
- Acids that cause tooth decay not being neutralized as quickly.
- Teeth absorbing fewer minerals like calcium and fluoride that are needed to keep teeth strong.
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 significant tooth decay, especially in the roots of teeth, 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 talk.
Is there anything I can do about it?
Yes. Get tips and information about dry mouth.