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from the Academy of General Dentistry

Tuesday, October 26, 2021
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Q&A: Dry Mouth

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Q&A: Dry Mouth

Q: What causes dry mouth?
Dry mouth is caused by a decrease in the amount of salvia in the mouth when the salivary glands do not work properly. The salivary glands help keep your mouth moist, which helps prevent decay and other oral health problems.


Dry mouth may be a sign of a serious health condition or may occur when a person is upset or experiences stress. Studies show that up to 400 medications, prescriptions and over-the-counter, can contribute to symptoms associated with dry mouth. The most common troublemakers are antihypertensives, antidepressants, painkillers, tranquilizers, diuretics, and antihistamines.


Q: Is dry mouth a problem?
Yes, it can cause health problems. You want to prevent dry mouth if possible because it causes difficulty in tasting, chewing, or swallowing. It also allows plaque to build up on your teeth faster, leading to a higher risk of cavities. In certain cases, a lack of moisture can make your tongue become very sensitive, causing a condition called burning mouth syndrome.


Q: Why is saliva important?
Saliva helps wash away cavity-causing bacteria, provides enzymes to help digest food, protects teeth from decay, and keeps oral tissues healthy. Without saliva you would lose your teeth much faster.


Reviewed:  January 2012