Hippocrates said “All disease begins in the gut.” Considering the digestive system begins in the mouth, it should be no surprise that the mouth holds bountiful clues! 90% of systemic dis-ease has an oral manifestation.
While everyone has a dry mouth occasionally, chronic dry mouth (known as xerostomia) which persists for weeks may be a symptom of an unhealthy habit, underlying health condition, or side effect from certain medications. If an insufficient supply of saliva is produced, you may notice these signs or symptoms all or most of the time:
👅Dryness or feeling a “stickiness” in the mouth
👅Saliva that seems thick and stringy
👅A dry or grooved tongue
👅A chronic dry or sore throat
👅A change in sense of taste
👅Difficulty chewing, speaking, and swallowing
Common habits and health conditions that may cause dry mouth:
👉A thyroid condition ….both hyper or hypo thyroid. Roughly 50% of people who have persistent dry mouth have a thyroid disorder.
👉Sinus problems which make people breathe thru their mouth
👉Radiation side effects
👉Tobacco and alcohol use
👉Yeast Infection (remember your tongue clues!)
👉Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia
👉Autoimmune diseases. An autoimmune disease called Sjogren’s syndrome causes dry eyes and dry mouth, and often accompanies other autoimmune disorders like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Unfortunately, over 400 relatively common prescription and over the counter medications cause dry mouth as a side effect. Some of the more common classes of medications that may contribute to the problem include:
💊Anti hypertensive medications (beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, and diuretics)
💊Oral inhalers (for the lungs)
💊Medications treating Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
💊Certain seizure medications
💊Medication for motion sickness
💊Bladder control medications
Interestingly, older age is also listed as a reason for dry mouth, but I disagree. Considering that the average elderly patient is on 9-13 prescriptions, the odds of dry mouth as a side effect to one or more of the above medications is quite high. When combined with the health conditions and/or habits listed above, dry mouth could occur at any age, the odds simply rise with the number of health conditions and medications involved. A healthy 70+ish individual (no meds / no underlying conditions) rarely has issues with dry mouth!
Dry mouth is an interesting clue because it has a cause and effect cycle. The longer dry mouth persists, the more problems chronic dry mouth can cause. Saliva is a necessary component of the digestion process. It washes away food and helps neutralize acid produced by bacteria in the mouth. It also has the capability to both repair tooth enamel thru remineralization (if the minerals are available thru good nutrition!), and wash out plaque. Continual dry mouth will eventually lead to dental erosion, plaque formation, decay, and gum disease, all of which can ultimately lead to more chronic dis-ease throughout the body. It’s a vicious cycle best remedied if possible.
Dry mouth is rarely discussed as a possible side effect from medications. In my opinion, it is one of the most important side effects to be aware of as gum and dental disease plays such an enormous role in overall health. Side effects of medications are some of the biggest reasons it is a good idea to look first for holistic ways to heal as opposed to quickly jumping on to the prescription drug carousel.
I am personally a huge fan of the Thieves oral care line (toothpaste, mouthwash, and floss) as a way to maintain my pearly whites (and gums!). One of the oft recommended remedies for dry mouth is sucking on lozenges or hard candy. Many common lozenge options are loaded with sugar which really feeds the beast of decay. If dry mouth is a concern, here are some tips and tricks:
🏆Stay well hydrated! Perk up your water’s flavor with Young Living Vitality drops that are so easily squirted into water. Lavender lemonade, Grapefruit Bergamot (my fave!), or for an added boost of energy, try the clean caffeine boosted Jade Lemon Berry or Spearmint Tangerine!
🏆Utilize a humidifier in the bedroom and rooms you frequent. Thankfully, many of our Young Living diffusers (including the Desert Mist) also serve as a humidifier!
🏆Keeping immune and oral health supportive sugar free Thieves Lozenges on hand to suck on.
🏆Avoid salty and dry foods that exacerbate dry mouth.
🏆Avoid tobacco and alcohol use.
🏆Regular dental cleanings from a dentist who doesn’t promote fluoride use!
Dry mouth is both a clue for the past AND a clue for what may come in the future if dry mouth is allowed to persist, so it’s quite important to get it under control whenever possible!