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Causes of Dry Mouth – a Reference for Caregivers

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Are you a caregiver for someone who may be at risk of developing Dry Mouth? If you’re not sure, keep reading. Dry Mouth, or Xerostomia, is a common condition affecting up to 1 in 5 adults in the USA. Contrary to common perception, a dry mouth isn’t always just thirst. It’s a condition that occurs when a person’s body doesn’t make enough saliva. Dry Mouth can cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms that you, as a caregiver, will want to look out for.

Why is recognizing Dry Mouth symptoms important?

Dry Mouth can be uncomfortable, bothersome and embarrassing, but more importantly, it can impact your loved one’s health. If left untreated, Dry Mouth may result in a greater risk of bad breath, cavities, and oral infections. It can also change the way they eat, because a dry mouth can make eating dry food more difficult. For those who are already vulnerable, for example the elderly and patients with serious health conditions, even small changes to their diet can have a negative impact.

Who’s at risk of developing Dry Mouth?

You might not realize that the person you care for is susceptible to Dry Mouth. Be on the lookout for symptoms, especially if your loved one falls into any of the following common at-risk categories:

  • Elderly – already vulnerable to Dry Mouth, many older people also have contributing factors, such as multiple medications and poor nutrition.
  • Cancer – cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and head and neck radiation can cause Dry Mouth.
  • Diabetes – Dry Mouth can sometimes be a symptom of diabetes.
  • Asthma/COPD – corticosteroid and beta-2 agonist inhalers can cause Dry Mouth.
  • Alzheimer’s – a dry mouth is a common side-effect of drugs for Alzheimer’s.
  • Smoking/alcohol/narcotics – some narcotics can cause dry mouth, and alcohol and tobacco can make symptoms worse.
  • Multiple medications – taking multiple medications can increase the chance of experiencing a dry mouth by up to 40%.

The list above isn’t exhaustive, so if you notice Dry Mouth symptoms in the person you’re caring for, be sure to discuss it with their doctor, dentist or healthcare provider.

What are common Dry Mouth symptoms to look for?

Recognizing the symptoms of Dry Mouth is the first step to getting moisturizing relief and improving your loved one’s oral health. If you think someone you care for may have Dry Mouth, or is at risk of developing it, check out these common symptoms:

  • Frequent thirst
  • Lip smacking
  • Dry or grooved tongue
  • Chapped lips
  • Bad breath
  • Waking up at night feeling thirsty
  • Problems speaking
  • Difficulty swallowing or eating dry foods
  • Complain of a changed sense of taste
  • Problems wearing dentures
  • Lipstick sticking to teeth

What can you do if your loved one exhibits Dry Mouth symptoms? Luckily, there’s plenty of help available. Make sure to talk to their doctor about it. They may be able to change their medications or adjust the dosage if that’s the problem. You should also speak with their dentist or hygienist, because Dry Mouth, along with poor oral hygiene, can lead to mouth infections. Finally, be sure to stock up on the Biotène Oral Rinse, Oralbalance Gel, and Moisturizing Spray to help relieve dry mouth symptoms throughout the day and night.

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