Dry Mouth Caused By Drugs

February 21, 2012 by staff 

Dry Mouth Caused By Drugs, Saliva Protects Teeth From Acid Attack
It does this by neutralising the acids that are produced after eating and drinking. In fact over a twenty four hour period, the average person produces at least half a litre of saliva. Saliva normally provides a protective barrier against sensitivity, erosion and decay. If you have an illness such as Sjogrens Syndrome, or have undergone cancer therapy, or are taking many of the common prescription medications, your saliva quality may be very poor. If your body fails to produce enough saliva, or it is of poor quality, or when you over exert yourself, the saliva may be unable to neutralise the acids in your mouth. This can lead to an acid mouth environment and severe dental problems and bad breath if left unchecked. Tooth problems such as sensitivity don’t happen overnight. Provided they are identified and addressed early, problems can usually be corrected before damage occurs. Your dentist can perform a simple saliva test of your buffering and pH levels.

Is Your Saliva Healthy
Bacteria that cause mouth problems live in an acid environment as well as in coatings that build up on the teeth and tongue daily. Healthy Saliva is a natural cleaning agent of teeth, gums and tongue. washing away the bacteria coatings before they form. Saliva also helps to moisturise the soft tissues of the mouth, and increase the intensity of the taste buds. Saliva contains ingredients such as calcium and phosphate (same as those found in Recaldent GC Mousse and Gum) to help remineralise tooth structure and make teeth less susceptible to decay. Saliva contains buffering agents to reverse the effects of acid in the foods we eat. Saliva contains immunoglobulins which help counteract infections of the mouth, and also stop the stickiness of bacterial plaque.

Stress Response Of The Body
activates the autonomous nervous system. This means that your heart rate speeds up, your blood pressure increases and your breathing quickens. Adrenalin is released to help body muscles prepare for action. All of these body reactions cause a decrease of saliva flow, and therefore an increase in dry mouth. You should be aware of Stress Symptoms such as sleep disturbances, back, shoulder or neck pain,tension or migraine headaches, pre menopausal syndrome, upset stomach or irritable bowel syndrome.

Alcohol Coffee Sports Drinks and Smoking
Most people do not realise but virtually all commercial mouthwash have alcohol as part of the mix. These alcohol levels can be as high as 25% in some of the more popular commercial brands. Although alcohol is excellent at killing bacteria, it also has a severe drying effect on mouth mucosa. In fact some studies have shown that daily use of mouthwash with alcohol could increase your risk of mouth cancer. So when you combine social alcohol consumption with daily mouthwash use, your alcohol input level can be quite high.


Coffee is a stimulant no different to any stimulant drug you might take. Stimulants have the side effect of decreasing saliva flow, and thus increasing dryness of the mouth. When you smoke you reduce the oxygen intake in the mouth and increase carbon monoxide instead. Also you are triggering the nervous system, and in some cases increasing metabolism. All these factors lead to a slow down of saliva production and therefore an increase in dry mouth.

Acid Drinks Are Most Destructive
during and after strenuous exercise and sport. This is because, sport and exercise will cause dehydration and thus a decrease in saliva flow. Once the protective saliva is lacking, the acids in the sports drinks can attack the enamel and tooth structure. So during sport the best solution is to stay hydrated and not use sports drinks. What people do not realise is that most drinks increase acid content. In fact even carbonated water contains acid content. Have a look at the graph below.


Medication And General Health
Most medicines have a dryness of the mouth or a taste change as a side effect. We are not advocating a change in medication, but that you should be aware that medicines can do these things. Medicines such as Blood Pressure Medication, Anti Depressant Medication, AntiHistamine Medication, Digestive Medication, Cholesterol Medication, to name just the main ones. Also you need to remember that as you get older, the body naturally slows down saliva production.

Symptoms of Dry Mouth
Dry mouth occurs when the glands of the oral cavity are not working properly. Simply put, there is not enough saliva or spit to keep your mouth wet. Because there is less saliva to protect and clean teeth and gums, you are more prone to gum disease and decay. The onset of dry mouth may be insidious and subtle as you age. With the elderly suffering many dry mouth related problems requiring expensive dental work. This lack of saliva can occur either due to lifestyle factors affecting the glands, or the problem may be more systemic. Some tell tale symptoms of dry mouth are:

Constant sore throat, or the feeling of a “lump in the throat”
Burning tongue syndrome, or reaction to acidic foods
Dry mouth during sleeping
Dry cracked lips and corners of the mouth or mouth sores
Dry mouth during the day, dry nasal passages
Constant thirst
Lack of lubrication during eating, talking or swallowing
Saliva that feels stringy during swallowing
The taste of food has changed
Bad Breath
Dry Mouth And Tooth Decay
When there is not enough saliva in the mouth, the consequences can be serious. Heavy build up of plaque and food is a common result and can lead to tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath.
Throughout the day and night, tooth enamel is in a dynamic action of demineralization and demineralization depending on the acid contents of the foods and drinks we consume, and the quality of the saliva. Basically when an introduced food has a pH of below 5.5 demineralization occurs. This means the acids in the consumed foods and drink leach out the Calcium and Phosphates from tooth enamel. We then rely on our saliva to remineralize (add the Calcium Ions and Phosphate Ions) back to the tooth after this acid attack. Saliva demineralization of teeth can only occur if the quality and quantity of the saliva is good. Therefore it is important to restore your mouth to healthy saliva as soon as possible to avoid the consequences of decay and bad breath.

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