Dry mouth is annoying! Your tongue feels like it is getting bigger and bigger, words get stuck to the side of your mouth, and food is hard to swallow! It can be caused by taking certain medications. It starts when your mouth produces less saliva. When your mouth feels dry or sticky, it can be inconvenient. If it stays that way, it can create oral hygiene problems. Left untreated, the pH balance in your mouth can get out of balance. This is especially true if you are on treatment because your personal care may suffer from lack of energy and your diet may not be as good as usual.
Causes and Treatments of Dry Mouth
Medications – Hepatitis C treatment is not the only medication that can cause dry mouth. Many antidepressants are known to cause dry mouth. Those of us with liver disease from hep C who have ascites know that diuretics can cause dry mouth also.
Saliva – What we may think of as spit is produced to help clean your mouth. When you have enough saliva, it dilutes acids and bacteria that are naturally occurring or those that come from food. Saliva insures that acids don’t eat away at your enamel as quickly. A lack of saliva can make your mouth so dry that it is hard to talk. Your tongue may feel large and sticky. You may find it hard to swallow. Sometimes food doesn’t taste as good and this leads to a loss of appetite.
Side Effects – If dry mouth goes without being treated, it can create a risk for other problems. Because bacteria causes a build up of plaque more quickly, cavities are more likely to develop. There is an element to saliva that remineralizes your teeth and helps the bone and enamel to stay strong. Without saliva, this protection goes away. In addition, mouth sores, oral thrush, and bad breath can be brought on by dry mouth. Even if you have dentures, you are at risk of problems from dry mouth.
At Home Treatment – Keep a glass or bottle of water nearby and swish it around frequently. The effects may not last very long, but it does bring temporary relief. There are some brands of dry mouth lozenges that proved short term treatment. The old fashioned method was to eat a lemon drop to produce saliva. The downside of that is the sugar it contains can cause decay.
Mouth breathing can increase dry mouth. Try breathing through your nose. Anything that acts as a diuretic such as excess caffeine in coffee or tea can make dry mouth worse. Alcohol also has negative effects by causing dehydration. Smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco can also make dry mouth worse.
If you are already of diuretics due to liver disease, you may already have some problems with dry mouth. Hepatitis C treatment can make it even worse. Try some of the at home treatments listed above. If you do not have success, talk to your doctor about getting some relief. Once you have finished treatment, many of the side effects will slowly disappear, including dry mouth!