Most people experience dry mouth occasionally, a result of being nervous or upset, under stress, or dehydrated. But if you experience dry mouth more regularly, it may be caused by a chronic condition or a side effect of the medications you take. No matter what the cause, dry mouth can be a dangerous condition that can lead to ill effects.
“Dry mouth is a very common side effect from medications,” said Scott Reef, owner and pharmacist at Reef Pharmacy. “For example, the same antihistamine that dries our your nasal passages also dries up your saliva. Blood pressure medications and antidepressants can cause dry mouth but so can at least 30 other types of medications.”
Reef notes the potential dangers of dry mouth. “Saliva is an important part of keeping our mouths healthy,” he says. “It cleanses our teeth and fights germs in our mouth, helping to protect us against tooth decay and gum disease. It also helps us digest food, and even talk. Dry mouth occurs when the salivary glands are not working properly. So when there’s not enough saliva, that causes problems in eating, talking and with your oral health.”
What Causes Dry Mouth?
Known by its medical term of Xerostomia, dry mouth can be caused by a number of things. It is a side effect of many prescription and over-the-counter medications. Dry mouth also could be a sign of a serious health problem like diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, a stroke or autoimmune syndrome or the result of radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Other causes of dry mouth include aging, pregnancy, dentures, nerve damage, poor oral hygiene, tobacco use, substance abuse, nutritional deficiencies, and even occupational or environmental hazards.
Do You Have Dry Mouth?
An occasional dry mouth is normal. But if you experience symptoms more often, you could have dry mouth. Importantly, symptoms progress over time and may not be noticed at the beginning stages.
Symptoms of dry mouth include a swollen tongue, cracked lips, hoarseness, a sore throat, loss of taste, and bad breath. Swallowing could be difficult, and you could even choke on your food. Prolonged dry mouth can contribute to oral infections, cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease.
What You Can Do
“If you’re experiencing dry mouth, and you don’t know why, check with your pharmacist,” said Reef. “We can help determine whether the medications you are taking are causing the problem, and we can suggest strategies for relief.”
Reef Pharmacy carries products to help alleviate dry mouth. They come in many forms, including rinses, lozenges, sprays and gels.
Here are some tips to keeping your mouth moist:
- Use toothpastes, mouthwashes, lozenges and other products that are formulated to relieve dry mouth.
- Sip water or snack on ice chips.
- Chew xylitol sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free candy.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, carbonated beverages and smoking.
- Avoid overly salty foods.
- Use a humidifier at night.
- Talk to your dentist about other steps you can take to protect your oral health.
Reef Family Pharmacy is a full-service pharmacy located at 1037 Route 9 in Cape May Court House, N.J. With a focus on personalized service, Reef Family Pharmacy distinguishes itself from the chain stores through free patient consultations, customized compounding for patients and their pets, and free prescription delivery in Cape May County. The family-owned and operated pharmacy stocks all-natural Estrogen and Progesterone cream or capsules and a wide variety of over-the-counter medications and local products, including CBD oil. For more information, call (609) 465-0004 or like us on Facebook or visit www.ReefFamilyPharmacy.com. Now in our 10th year helping you! We temporarily offer only drive-through pick up at our drive-thru window and free local delivery services to our customers.