Does Alzheimer’s Cause Dry Mouth?

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Does Alzheimer’s Cause Dry Mouth?

Alzheimer’s is one of the many diseases that is associated with dry mouth in older adults. When left untreated, dry mouth can cause a variety of problems with your teeth and gums. At Dr. Saba and Associates, we help adults in Sun Lakes protect their oral health from the effects of dry mouth. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, continue reading to learn more. 

What Is Dry Mouth?

When your mouth stops producing a sufficient amount of saliva, it is a condition known as dry mouth, or xerostomia. Because your mouth doesn’t have enough saliva to wash away food particles and bacteria, this condition makes your mouth more vulnerable to cavities and infections. Without sufficient saliva, the mouth is also unable to maintain healthy Ph levels- and the mouth becomes more acidic. This acidic environment is often how adults with a lifetime history of low decay, suddenly have multiple areas of decay in a matter of months. Dry mouth can also make it difficult to properly swallow and digest food, leading to gastrointestinal problems. 

Dryness or a sticky feeling in your mouth, a sore throat, bad breath, and a hoarse voice are a few symptoms of dry mouth. While Alzheimer’s is associated with dry mouth, it isn’t the only factor. Dry mouth could also be a side effect of certain medications or a symptom of other underlying conditions. Make an appointment with your dentist or doctor as soon as you notice signs of dry mouth to quickly identify what is causing the condition. 

How Does Alzheimer’s Cause Dry Mouth?  

Over 6 million Americans have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, a form of dementia that causes memory loss and can affect behavior. For instance, people with Alzheimer’s disease don’t receive the signal that they’re thirsty, so they can easily become dehydrated. Dehydration leads to dry mouth from low saliva production, putting people with Alzheimer’s at higher risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss.  

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that significantly worsens over time, so it is crucial to contact your doctor as soon as you notice any warning signs. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s include memory loss that impacts daily life, difficulty carrying out everyday tasks, and unusual changes in mood, personality, or behavior. While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, treatment can slow or delay its symptoms.

Gum disease is similar in that it quickly gets worse over time and requires swift treatment. Advanced gum disease is also irreversible, so early treatment is key in preventing permanent damage. Whether Alzheimer’s or another issue is the cause, dry mouth can lead to gum disease and worsen its effects. The combination of dry mouth and gum disease can result in tooth loss, so please don’t hesitate to make a dental appointment if your gums start bleeding easily. 

How to Prevent and Treat Dry Mouth

People with Alzheimer’s can treat dry mouth by following these tips to stay hydrated:

  • Have a loved one or caregiver frequently remind them to drink water.
  • Set up reminders on a phone or other device to drink water throughout the day.
  • Eat foods with high water content, such as cucumbers, celery, tomatoes, berries, apples, and clear soups. 
  • Speak with a doctor about adjusting your medications if any of them list dry mouth as a side effect.

Gentle Dental Care in Sun Lakes, Arizona

If you or a loved one with Alzheimer’s are experiencing dry mouth symptoms, careful monitoring is important to make sure tooth decay and gum disease are kept under control. Drs. Saba and Romanin at Sun Lakes Dentistry help seniors in the Sun Lakes community maintain healthy smiles with a variety of preventative services. Give us a call at 480-895-2111 today to schedule an appointment.

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (6/28/2023). Photo by Marcus Aurelius on Pexels