Xerostomia, otherwise known as dry mouth, usually occurs when the production of saliva slows down. These barren conditions result in difficulty speaking, sore throat and the inability to find a glass of water large enough to quench the thirst. In persistent cases, it can also lead to bad breath. Why? The natural saliva that has so mysteriously seemed to vanish has a job to do: flushing bacteria and leftover food particles from your mouth. Without saliva to flush them away, the bacteria and debris start to break down, creating an unpleasant odor.
Lots of things can cause dry mouth. Certain medications, including those for blood pressure, antihistamines, antidepressants, diuretics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories can decrease saliva production. So can radiation treatments, salivary gland diseases, diabetes, mouth breathing, sleep apnea and certain autoimmune disorders. People with eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia, or women who are pregnant or nursing can develop dry mouth because of dehydration and hormonal changes. Other factors can include stress, anxiety and depression. If left untreated, dry mouth, can lead to decaying teeth, cavities, difficulty eating or talking and even a loss of teeth.
You can treat the side effects of dry mouth. Chewing sugar-free gum can help stimulate saliva without coating the teeth with excess sugars. Another alternative is rinsing with mouthwash to kill bacteria, remove food particles and keep the mouth moist. Other simple remedies for dry mouth include limiting caffeine and drinking lots of water.