“Having a bone-dry mouth” – almost everyone knows the expression. However, hardly anyone knows that dry oral mucosa and constant dry mouth can hide a serious health problem.
A dry mouth every now and then is nothing unusual. However, a constantly dry mouth - even despite drinking - can indicate an illness.
The oral cavity is normally kept moist by six large and countless small salivary glands. Up to 1.5 liters of saliva per day is “produced” in a healthy mouth.
Why is saliva so important?
Salivation is an important function for our body. Saliva serves to remineralize the teeth, is responsible for self-cleaning in the oral cavity and ensures that tooth decay cannot occur.
The saliva “washes away” food particles that serve as food for oral bacteria from the teeth.
At the same time, it buffers acids that get into the mouth through acidic foods and could attack tooth enamel.
What do you actually mean by dry mouth?
Dry mouth literally feels like you have dust in your mouth. The mucous membranes of the mouth dry out and it is as if the tongue is stuck to the roof of the mouth. This can be caused temporarily by stress or anxiety.
You won't have enough saliva to keep your mouth moist.
If the condition persists for a long time and it is really extreme dry mouth, then there may be something more serious behind it.
Typical symptoms of dry mouth
Unfortunately, the symptoms of dry mouth are not limited to the mouth itself:
- Burning feeling in the mouth: Due to the lack of saliva, the oral mucosa becomes sensitive and can burn. Inflammatory areas also establish themselves more quickly.
- Furry tongue: The tongue feels leathery and furry due to dehydration.
- Dry throat: The dryness is rarely limited to the mouth. The neck area also feels dry and scratches as a result.
- Sore throat: If the dry mouth lasts longer, the lack of moisture in the throat area can also lead to pain.
- Chapped lips: A dehydrated mouth usually leads to dry, chapped and cracked lips.
- Sores on the mouth: The sensitive areas on the edges of the mouth become cracked and sore.
- Difficulty chewing and swallowing: If you don't produce enough saliva, you will also notice this when eating - chewing and swallowing are much more difficult and this even has an impact when speaking - your tongue literally sticks.
- Toothache: Since the acid in the mouth cannot be neutralized by saliva, food residue tends to get stuck and the minerals brought by saliva are missing, the tooth cannot remineralize and the caries bacteria have free rein.
Possible causes of dry mouth
Dry mouth can have many causes. Some of them are harmless and regulate themselves. Others, however, are more serious.
What many people don't know is that even our psyche can have an impact on dry mouth.
- Nervousness or fear: When we are tense, afraid or have stage fright, we literally stop spitting.
- Long speaking: People who have just given a long lecture have actually “talked their mouths dry”.
- Singers and frequent speakers: They use their voice permanently. As a result, your mucous membranes also permanently lose moisture.
- Mouth breathing: If you breathe a lot through your mouth as a result of a cold, your mucous membranes dry out due to the constant supply of air.
- Dusty environment: Dust and dry ambient air affect our mucous membranes - this can lead to dry mouth in the short term.
- Heat or fever: High (body) temperatures dehydrate us. You can also notice this in the mouth area.
- Drinking too little: We also become dehydrated and our mouth area feels drier.
- Dental diseases: Inflammation in the jaw or gums affects the oral mucous membranes. There is a dry, sometimes furry feeling.
- Medication: Some medications cause dry mouth as a side effect. These include, among other things, a number of sleeping pills, psychotropic drugs and blood pressure medications.
- Reduced ability to produce saliva: This usually occurs as a result of a serious illness such as diabetes or a hormonal imbalance. By the way, menopause also has similar side effects.
- Smoking: Nicotine constricts the blood vessels, inhibiting blood circulation and causing dry mouth. In addition, smoke particles stick to the oral mucosa, drying it out and increasing the number of harmful bacteria in the mouth, which can lead to tooth and gum problems.
Dry mouth due to increased mouth breathing
Most of us have experienced this phenomenon before:
- You really have a cold. Your sinuses and the entire nasal area are so tight that it is practically impossible for the air you breathe to get through.
- This forces you to breathe through your mouth. Since we usually have colds in the cold season, we often breathe in dust and dry air from the heating system.
- As a result, our mouth dries out.
Dry mouth as a side effect of certain medications
When taking certain medications, dry mouth is a side effect.
These medicines affect certain gland functions in our body by acting on nerves or hormones.
This particularly applies to medications that affect our autonomic nervous system:
- psychotropic drugs,
- sleeping pills and sedatives,
- as well as high blood pressure medications,
- but also eye medications or remedies for bladder weakness.
Since older people often take medication, they also suffer from dry mouth more often.
Dry mouth due to psychological problems
Psychological problems can also be the cause of dry mouth.
Under severe psychological stress, our body slows down a number of organ functions. This can lead to a reduction in saliva flow.
This leaves us salivating because of sheer fear or shock. If the state of physical stress lasts longer, such as in the case of depression or anxiety disorder, dry mouth occurs.
Dry mouth due to too little fluid
Unfortunately, something that many of us know:
We forgot to drink again. As adults , we should drink around two to three liters of water every day. If you don't drink enough, you become dehydrated, which reduces saliva production.
Dry mouth at night
While we sleep, our saliva production naturally reduces. When we wake up, we often have a dry mouth.
If we also sleep in a heated room or snore, our mucous membranes dry out even more.
Drinking alcohol in the evening also promotes dehydration at night and thus dry mouth.
Dry mouth caused by low humidity
Dry mouth is more common in winter than in summer. The reason is the very dry air that occurs when rooms are heated.
Heating air dries out our mucous membranes. It is therefore ideal to ventilate the room several times a day and also set up water containers or humidifiers in the room.
Suitable home remedies for dry mouth
Various home remedies can help with dry mouth. What helps particularly well against a dry mouth:
Drink a lot: Water is still the best remedy for dry mouth! Provide your body with enough fluids - water or unsweetened teas are ideal for this.
Sweets: Sucking sugar-free sweets promotes salivation.
Chewing gum: Chewing chewing gum also stimulates the flow of saliva.
- Oral hygiene: Good oral hygiene promotes salivation and prevents inflammation.
- Don't smoke: Cigarette smoke and nicotine dry out the mucous membranes in the mouth and are extremely harmful to your health. So it's better to stay away from cigarettes.
- Balanced diet: Anyone who eats a healthy, balanced diet and consumes lots of vitamins and nutrients also promotes healthy oral flora. Coffee and alcohol, on the other hand, dry out the mucous membranes.
Go to the doctor if you have dry mouth: When is it time for medical help?
Every one of us has a dry mouth now and then.
However, if you notice this happening all the time, your lips and edges of your mouth are cracking and the dry mouth affects your ability to swallow or speak over a longer period of time, then you should consult your doctor to rule out that there is a more serious reason behind it.
If your body actually produces too little saliva, special mouth sprays or lozenges can be prescribed or, if necessary, your medication can be changed or adjusted.
Possible consequences of persistent dry mouth
Dry mouth that lasts over a long period of time can have unpleasant consequences for you.
- Increased risk of dental problems: A dry mouth collects more bacteria that attack your teeth and gums. Possible consequences can be tooth decay, gum inflammation or periodontitis.
- Bad breath: Unfortunately, more bacteria also means more bad smells. Chronic bad breath occurs.
- Increased risk of infection: Bacteria that multiply in the mouth can easily spread throughout the body. So you generally have a higher risk of a bacterial infection. A dry mouth can also make it harder to ward off viruses and thus promote viral infections.
- Loss of taste: If bacteria colonize unhindered in the mouth, there is an increased risk of inflammation. This can lead to loss of taste.
- Tissue damage: If the flow of saliva is disturbed, the entire mouth becomes rough over time. This damages your tissue - inflammation of the salivary glands can also result.
Prevent dry mouth
Dry mouth can be prevented with a few simple tricks.
Drinking a lot is your best insurance. If you add lemon juice or herbs such as mint or sage to your water, the flow of saliva will also be stimulated. You can also chew mint or sage without water. This also ensures a pleasant bad breath.
Or you can treat yourself to a piece of pineapple. The enzymes in the fruit stimulate the flow of saliva. If the pineapple is frozen, even more saliva forms.
Despite all the tricks and home remedies, the most important thing is and remains careful oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day with a high-quality product that gently cleans your teeth and cares for your mouth - we recommend the organic tooth powder from teethlovers.
We all experience dry mouth. In most cases this is a temporary condition and absolutely harmless. However, if the “dust in the mouth” lasts longer, you should take it seriously and seek medical advice.