Dry mouth, also called xerostomia, is a condition that occurs when not enough saliva is produced to keep the mouth moist. It can be caused by many different things, including anxiety and medication. Let’s learn more about the symptoms of dry mouth, common dry mouth causes, and what you can do to prevent and treat this problem.

What are the symptoms of a dry mouth?

Saliva is a clear, thin fluid that is secreted by the salivary glands. It helps to moisten the mouth and to digest food and helps to strengthen your enamel with minerals such as calcium, fluoride, and phosphate. Saliva also contains enzymes that break down carbohydrates and starches. If your glands produce a low level of saliva, this results in a dry mouth.

Some common symptoms of a dry mouth are listed below:

  • A dry, itchy, or sticky sensation in the mouth
  • Feeling thirsty all the time
  • Having a hard time swallowing
  • Experiencing a burning sensation in your mouth
  • Having trouble speaking or tasting food
  • Developing a cough
  • Hoarse voice
  • Bad breath

close up of open mouth

What is anxiety and can it cause a dry mouth?

Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease. Feeling anxious can be caused by many things, such as stress at work or school, money troubles, or health problems. Anxiety is often accompanied by physical sensations, such as a rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, or dizziness.

These sensations can be so severe that they cause you to feel like you’re having a heart attack or are about to die. This is called a panic attack. Panic attacks can be so frightening that you may avoid any place or situation where you think an attack could happen.

Stress and anxiety are closely related. When you are stressed, your body releases hormones that can cause anxiety symptoms. Additionally, when you are anxious, your stress response can be activated, leading to more stress. It is a vicious cycle that can be hard to break.

The link between anxiety and a dry mouth

Anxiety is a common cause of dry mouth. This is because when you’re anxious, your body produces more adrenalin. This hormone causes the mouth to become dry by reducing the production of saliva.

Accordingly, people with anxiety are more likely to experience dry mouth and, as a result, develop dental problems. Saliva is important for keeping the mouth clean and healthy, and when it is not present, bacteria can build up and cause tooth decay and gum disease.

People with anxiety may also experience other symptoms that can impact their oral health. For example, they may have trouble sleeping, which can lead to a build-up of plaque and an increased risk for cavities. In addition, people with anxiety may grind their teeth (bruxism), which can cause jaw pain and damage the teeth.

dictionary definition of anxiety

Can medication lead to a dry mouth?

Several types of medication list a dry mouth as a common side effect. Some other common side effects of medication include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, changes in appetite, changes in weight, headache, drowsiness, and dizziness.

It is important to talk to your doctor about any side effects that you are experiencing. Moreover, along with anxiety, if you take medication for any of the conditions below, you might experience a dry mouth:

  • Allergies
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Chronic pain
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Sjögren’s syndrome

How to treat a dry mouth?

Dry mouth can be difficult to treat because it is often a symptom of another condition such as anxiety. Treating the underlying condition can help to improve dry mouth symptoms.

Some steps you can take to prevent a dry mouth include

  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water
  • Suck on ice chips or hard candy
  • Avoid excess caffeine and alcohol
  • Chew sugar-free gum or suck on a lozenge
  • Brush your teeth twice a day and clean between them once per day
  • Practice self-care to reduce and manage stress and keep anxiety under control

If your mouth feels dry all the time help is out there

Dry mouth is a frustrating condition that can make it difficult to eat, speak, and lead a normal life. Above all, if left untreated a dry mouth can lead to the development of other dental symptoms and conditions so it is important to address the issue as soon as possible.

Fortunately, there are many different ways you can combat dry mouth symptoms. If the causes of your dry mouth include medications or chronic conditions like anxiety, talk with your doctor or dentist about alternatives for managing your condition.

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