Dry mouth (reduced saliva, xerostomia) is problematic:
- Increased risk of cavities, because saliva controls oral bacteria and builds up teeth
- Slower digestion, because digestion should start with enzymes in saliva
- Increased risk of oral infections
- Decreased sense of taste and enjoyment of food
- Bad breath, for saliva rinses the mouth of food
Causes of dry mouth
The causes of dry mouth vary:
- Medications, such as those for those for acne, allergies (antihistamines), anxiety, asthma, depression, diarrhea, high blood pressure, incontinence, nausea, obesity, Parkinson's disease. Other contributors are muscle relaxants and sedatives.
- Aging, since it is associated with medications.
- Damage to salivary glands (say, due to chemotherapy, radiotherapy, neck surgery)
- Dehydration (say, due to fever, sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of blood)
- Habits, such as consumption of tobacco or methamphetamines ("meth"), breathing with mouth open, snoring.
- Diabetes, anemia, hypertension