Dry mouth is a common symptom of many things. Whether it is from the medication you take or nerve damage, you may find yourself having problems with dry mouth. So how does this relate to Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a common disease in the older population. It leads to a lack of bone density so your bone becomes more fragile and you risk breaking your bones easily. It is a silent killer that doesn’t often show any early warning signs. However, studies are showing that many people with Osteoporosis start to show signs of dry mouth.
Keep reading to learn more about both Osteoporosis and dry mouth, including the signs, how they are correlated, and how to improve your health.
What Is Dry Mouth?
Also known as Xerostomia, Dry Mouth is when the glands in your mouth don’t make the amount of saliva they should. This can be due to a lack of production, or a blockage of the glands and can be caused by a variety of reasons. Sometimes, it can be something as simple as dehydration or nervousness, but other times, it can be something a little more long-term. Some medications can cause dry mouth, but they can also be caused by any condition that messes with the salivary glands.
Saliva is important for many things. Not only does it help you break down food, but it also aids in digestion, and prevents tooth decay. Without it, food may not taste as good, and you may have health concerns with your teeth and gums.
How Do I Know I Have a Dry Mouth?
There are many signs to look for to learn if you have a dry mouth.
- Hard to swallow foods
- Have to drink liquids to eat drier foods
- Hard to eat and feel like you don’t have any saliva when eating
- Your mouth feels dry when waking up or at night
- Mouth feels dry during the day
- Wake up thirsty in the middle of the night
- Struggle to taste foods sometimes
- Burning tongue
If you notice three or more of these to be true, you likely have a dry mouth. There are many reasons you may experience dry mouth, as it is a common side effect when you have nerve damage or are taking certain medications.
If you think you have a dry mouth, it is worth checking with a doctor. They may be able to help you narrow down the reason you may have it, as well as provide solutions to make your experience less uncomfortable. Plus, they may be able to explain to you how to stop your dry mouth from occurring and whether your situation will be permanent or temporary.
What Causes Dry Mouth?
There are quite a few things that can cause dry mouth.
- Quite a few medications have dry mouth as a side effect. Not just prescribed medications but over-the-counter ones as well. Anything from medications for high blood pressure to decongestants can cause dry mouth as a side effect.
- Sometimes, dry mouth is just something that occurs as you age. Currently, it isn’t clear if it is due to just getting older, the fact that people are often taking more medications, other health problems that occur as you age, or something to do with nutrition.
- Cancer doesn’t necessarily cause dry mouth. However, the therapy to reduce cancer is well-known for causing dry mouth. Radiation especially has a chance to damage your salivary glands. Whether this is temporary or permanent depends on the radiation duration and location.
- Nerve Damage. If you’ve had damage to the neck or head it can cause dry mouth. Again, this may be temporary or permanent.
- Health Conditions. Certain health problems like Osteoporosis, diabetes, AIDS, snoring, Alzheimer’s, yeast infections, and stroke can all result in dry mouths in certain people.
- Lack of nutrients. Improper nutrients can stop the body from producing the saliva from the salivary glands or even block them so the saliva can’t be released.
- Tobacco usage has been associated with dry mouth.
- Excessive alcohol usage has also been associated with dry mouth.
- Recreational drugs, such as methamphetamine and marijuana have been known to cause dry mouth (a condition often referred to as ‘meth mouth’).
What Is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is often called the silent killer. This is because there are little to no signs of osteoporosis until something serious happens. It causes a lack of bone density, making them easier to fracture and break.
However, that doesn’t immediately mean that you are going to die. So why is it known as the silent killer? This is because if an older person falls and breaks their hip, there is about a 13% chance that they will pass away within six months.
Since you can break bones like hips much easier with osteoporosis, you are much more likely to break a bone when you fall or trip. And since there are no outward signs, you don’t know that you are more likely to break a bone until it happens.
Osteoporosis is common among women, especially those of Caucasian or Asian descent. But it’s not just women. In the United States alone, over 2 million men have osteoporosis. Studies show that taking vitamin D supplements and taking enough calcium can help reduce your chances of getting Osteoporosis, though it isn’t a surefire way to prevent it.
When you get older, you can check bone density regularly to ensure there isn’t any density reduction as you age. You have to get annual checks, as there is no easy sign to tell you when something may be wrong.
How Are Osteoporosis and Dry Mouth Related?
Studies have shown that there is a significant relationship between Osteoporosis and dry mouth, especially in women. This may provide a way to check for early signs of Osteoporosis, as some other methods aren’t quite as accurate as we would like.
Unfortunately, the oral medication some dentists recommend to reduce dry mouth also can provide dry mouth, and may be worth talking to your doctor about if they occur.
Dry mouth isn’t the only way that Osteoporosis affects the mouth. It can also cause a weak jawbone that is unable to hold teeth. Gum disease, periodontal disease, and teeth loss can also occur.
Since Osteoporosis is often known as the silent killer, this may provide a way for people to see warning signs that their bone density is weakening. Though there is no cure at the moment, it provides a way to know when to start looking, and allows people to be more careful when they are moving around, as they know their bones are more fragile.
You can also start to perform health practices that reduce your chance of having your bone density grow worse, such as exercising, reducing smoking, and practicing healthier oral care.
What To Do To Reduce Dry Mouth
Besides limiting some of the products that can cause dry mouths, such as drugs, alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, or sugary foods, there are some things that you can do to help make your mouth feel less dry.
- Sugar-free gum or chewy candy. Candies and gum that contain xylitol can help your body produce extra saliva. You don’t want to eat too many, as it can cause stomach issues and diarrhea, but sucking on hard candy or chewing gum throughout the day can help produce extra saliva.
- Check your mouthwash. Mouthwashes that contain alcohol can make the problem worthwhile. Instead, try a mouthwash for dry mouth. These again contain xylitol and promote saliva production. On top of helping with dry mouth, it protects against tooth decay and improves teeth health.
- Take regular small sips of water. Instead of drinking a lot at once, taking constant small sips throughout the day helps keep your mouth moist. Try to make it a regular practice and you may start to see your dry mouth improving.
- Saliva substitutes. There are saliva substitutes on the market. Yet again, these contain xylitol and they help to keep your mouth wet as well as help your body produce saliva on its own. The substitutes will give you instructions on use.
- Avoid antihistamines or decongestants. It is best to try and avoid medicines that cause dry mouth as a symptom. Things like over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants are two of the most common.
- Breathe through your nose. Breathing through your mouth can reduce the moisture that is present there. Instead, if you breathe through your nose to retain some of the moisture levels.
- Use fluoride. While fluoride might not necessarily help your saliva production, it can help promote teeth health in replacement of the saliva your body isn’t producing.
- Add humidity. If you tend to stay in one area, such as where you sleep, it is a good idea to get a humidifier. It adds moisture into the air, reducing the amount of dryness your mouth will feel when you wake up.
Osteoporosis is no joke. It is often called the silent killer as a broken hip can put you in a bad enough place that you just can’t recover. However, there are little to no signs that Osteoporosis is occurring until after the damage is already done.
However, dry mouth has been found to be a common symptom for people experiencing Osteoporosis. Though it can also be a symptom of many other things, doctors can take it as a warning. Perhaps, if someone comes in with symptoms of dry mouth, it could be a warning that Osteoporosis is occurring and a check needs to be conducted to look for early cases of Osteoporosis.