A dry mouth, also known as Xerostomia, is a prevalent condition that occurs when insufficient saliva is produced to keep the inside areas of the mouth wet. Depending upon the causes and factors, it can be a short-lived or recurring condition. Xerostomia can either be minor discomfort or even a serious issue that can impact your oral health, creating problems for teeth and gums.
Saliva and reasons behind Xerostomia
Saliva is vital; it helps prevent tooth decay by limiting bacterial growth and counteracting its effects. Saliva also aids in digestion and enhances the ability to taste.
There are various symptoms of dry mouth or Xerostomia, listed below:
- An uncomfortable feeling of dryness in the mouth
- Sticky and thick saliva
- Foul smell in breath
- Dryness in the throat and tongue
- Difficulty in chewing or swallowing food
- Limited or changed sense of taste
- Cracked lips and mouth sores
Xerostomia can be caused due to a variety of reasons such as age, medication, health conditions, or even nerve damage. Let us look into some of the major causes behind this issue:
1. Stress and Anxiety
When you are stressed or have anxiety, your body releases more cortisol, which is known as a stress hormone; as the cortisol level increases in your saliva, it changes the composition of saliva and results in a dry mouth. So, the more stressed you are, the drier your mouth will be. Consuming THC can help you reduce stress and anxiety. Hence decreasing the possibility of dry mouth. You can consume THC in various forms, including gummies, tinctures, oils, THC pen, etc.
2. Medication side effects
Many medications can cause dry mouth. These may include various over-the-counter medicines, drugs used to treat depression or anxiety, muscle relaxants, decongestants, or antihistamines.
These medications may have specific components that can adversely impact saliva production in the body, causing dry mouth conditions.
3. Side effects of diseases or health conditions
Many medical conditions can also impair the functioning of salivary glands leading to dry mouth. These include yeast infection in the mouth, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and anaemia, to name a few. It is best to consult a doctor if such illnesses cause dry mouth and get advice from trained medical experts on how to deal with it.
4. Lifestyle-related factors
Lifestyle-related issues such as stress or anxiety can also impact the salivary glands, leading to dry mouth. When stressed, the body releases a hormone called cortisol that may change the composition of your saliva, which in turn may lead to a dry mouth.
Another critical factor is the consumption of alcohol or tobacco as a lifestyle choice. If you smoke or drink or consume alcohol and tobacco together regularly, you may experience dry mouth. Alcohol and tobacco are popularly known to impart a dehydrated feel to the mouth, and increased usage beyond a specific limit can intensify mouth dryness.
5. Snoring or breathing through the mouth
Snoring or breathing through your mouth regularly can also lead to a dry mouth or Xerostomia. It is a common symptom of nasal congestion and can lead to dryness in the mouth on waking up in the morning. If you find this condition a recurring issue, it is best to consult a doctor or trained medical expert.
6. Dehydration or exercising and being under high heat
The body often faces an extreme lack of water, which inhibits the salivary glands, preventing them from creating enough saliva, eventually leading to a dry mouth. This can also happen after intense physical activity for a prolonged period, such as working in a field.
Excessive exercising or spending long hours under high heat can lead to a similar result, causing dry mouth conditions.
7. Nerve damage
Damaged nerves in the neck and head area due to an injury or surgery can lead to dry mouth. Some nerves carry information between your brain and salivary glands. If these nerves are damaged, they can’t send the brain message to the salivary gland to make saliva.
8. Radiation Therapy
Receiving radiation therapy to the head or neck can lead to numerous side effects, including dry mouth. During the therapy, radiation damages the salivary glands, reducing the secretion of saliva in the mouth and hence causing dryness.
As you age, it’s common to experience dry mouth. There can be many reasons for this, including health issues, certain medications, and changes in your body.
There are various reasons and factors behind Xerostomia, and oral dryness can last from an hour to days depending upon the underlying causes and factors. In most cases of temporary dryness, keeping oneself hydrated and drinking ample water is suggested to prevent the condition from aggravating. But if you do not know the cause, it is best to consult a doctor and discuss it with them to be safe.