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The Dry Mouth Epidemic – It’s More than Medications, Aging and Degenerative Diseases

Course Number: 595

Lifestyle Issues

Contemporary lifestyles can add to the development of dry mouth syndrome.2,31 Insufficient fluid intake or prolonged exposure to low levels of humidity in desert climates, cold winter air, or indoor air that is either artificially heated or cooled can set the stage for dehydration.76 Headaches or dizziness can be signs of dehydration. Emotional conditions, such as stress and anxiety, can have negative effects on salivary flow.2,31 Heavy exercise induces mouth breathing.77 Pregnant women and nursing mothers should be advised to increase fluid intake. Patients with cognitive issues may forget to drink enough fluids and those who suffer from urinary tract incontinence may choose to limit fluid intake, especially before sleeping. Laxative abuse can lead to dehydration.

Cigarette smoking, vaping, and recreational drugs like methamphetamines and cannabis are known causes of dry mouth. Caffeine and alcoholic beverages are diuretics. Foods high in sodium, like salty snacks and highly processed foods, increase the potential for dry mouth. Most mouth rinses contain a significant amount of alcohol, a necessary ingredient to keep therapeutic ingredients active, but alcohol can exacerbate oral dryness for those at risk.78

Oral appliances such as partial dentures, sports mouth guards, removable orthodontic aligners, bruxism appliances, and whitening trays create a physical barrier between teeth and saliva, creating a temporary dry environment. Moist mucosa is necessary for full denture comfort. Seemingly innocuous activities like strenuous exercise,77 wearing a C Pap machine or prolonged speaking or singing can contribute to dry mouth.