Many people are familiar with the sensation of a dry mouth, which is also sometimes referred to as “cotton mouth.” The latter is a relatively accurate way to describe the feeling you experience. A dry mouth can be due to many reasons, all of which come back to a lack of necessary saliva in the mouth. Saliva has a big role in your health, with many purposes beyond wetting your food as you eat. By understanding the causes, you can determine the ways it affects your overall oral health.

Medicinal Side Effects

If you have to take a new medication from your doctor, one of the side effects might be that it causes dry mouth. Over 400 medications are currently approved by the FDA that are known to cause dry mouth among patients. Medicines designed to treat high blood pressure and depression are the most frequent prescriptions that cause a dry mouth. If your dry mouth becomes too severe, speak with your doctor about changing your medication.

Cancer Treatment

With all of the methods available to treat cancer, radiation therapy and chemotherapy are among the biggest causes for dry mouth. During radiation treatment, your mouth can be exposed to a certain amount of radiation, which is damaging to the glands that produce saliva, causing them to malfunction. Chemotherapy does not damage salivary glands, but it does cause saliva to be thicker, making it less dispersed in the mouth for a “dry” feeling. While you can drink water to remedy this issue, you may be subject to the dry mouth until your treatment is complete.

Nerve Damage

Dry mouth can also be caused by damage to your nerves. If you are in an injury that affects your head and neck, your brain could have difficulty making the connection to your nerve endings to produce saliva. However, your physician will be able to tell you if a dry mouth is a potential side effect of your injuries. Regardless of the cause of your dry mouth, maintaining your saliva is essential.

How Does a Dry Mouth Impact Your Health?

Saliva is necessary towards maintaining a healthy mouth for many reasons. Saliva is produced to prevent tooth decay and to control the bacteria and fungi in the mouth. Without saliva, you allow your mouth to become a cesspool of decay, bacteria, and fungi, which can result in gum diseases that damages your ability to chew or even speak. Luckily, dry mouth is a treatable condition.

Dry Mouth Treatment

Dry mouth treatment largely depends on the reason for the ailment. For instance, if your medication is causing the problem, your physician may change you to another medication. Medications are available to help your mouth increase saliva production, or your dentist can prescribe artificial saliva to keep your mouth wet while you undergo your necessary treatment. Keep your teeth healthy by brushing a flossing every day, which can prevent a dry mouth on a regular basis.