Dry Mouth

Dry mouth (or xerostomia) is a condition in which you do not produce enough saliva, and your mouth is unusually dry. If you have dry mouth most of the time, this may be a sign of a medical condition, or it can lead to serious health problems. Saliva is vital in limiting bacterial growth in the mouth and facilitates the process of swallowing food particles. So, if your mouth is dry, this can cause tooth decay and various digestion problems.

Dry Mouth and Symptoms
Age is not a risk factor by itself, but old people suffer from diseases associated with dry mouth more often. They are also more likely to take medications that cause dry mouth.

The most common symptoms of dry mouth include: a sticky, dry feeling in the mouth, throat and nasal passages; frequent and strong thirst; sores in the mouth; lesions at the mouth’s corners; cracked lips; and sore throat. Another symptom is the feeling that your mouth, and especially your tongue, is burning. A red, dry, and rough tongue is a warning sign of having xerostomia as well. Bad breath and difficulties speaking, tasting, chewing, and swallowing are other symptoms of dry mouth. If you notice any of the above symptoms, consider making an appointment with your dentist and/ or doctor.

Dry Mouth and Causes
The causes of dry mouth come in a large variety. The condition may develop as a side effect of the intake of medications. Among them are drugs for depression, anxiety, psychotic disorders, obesity, pain, allergies, colds, etc. Some medical treatments may also cause dry mouth. Chemotherapy, for instance, can damage the salivary glands.

Dry mouth has been associated with some medical conditions and diseases, such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS, Sjogren’s syndrome, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, etc. Nerve damage in the head and neck area, caused by surgery or injury, is another possible cause.

Dehydration caused by diarrhea, fever, or excessive sweating can also cause dry mouth. Removal of the salivary glands is also associated with this condition. The good news is that many scientists around the world are working on new treatments of xerostomia, including ways to replace damaged salivary glands with artificial ones. Dry mouth can increase the risk of gum disease and dental caries.

Finally, smoking or chewing tobacco and continuous mouth breathing have been linked to dry mouth as well.

Dry Mouth and Treatment Options
If the condition is caused by some medication, you can ask your doctor to prescribe you a different one or to adjust the dose you are currently taking. Your health care provider can also recommend an oral rinse to restore your mouth moisture or prescribe a medication that stimulates the production of saliva. Avoid mouth rinses containing alcohol or peroxide.

It is commonsense, but make sure you drink plenty of water. Avoid sugar, dry, salty, and spicy foods, alcohol, and drinks containing caffeine. Fruit juices and tomato juice should be avoided as well. Sugar-free gums and sugar-free candies can help as they stimulate the saliva flow.

You can use a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice and a cup of water to make a mouth rinse yourself. Alternatively, you can drip a few drops of lemon juice directly on your tongue. Brush your teeth twice a day to prevent tooth decay. Using fluoride toothpaste is an option.

Avoid mouth breathing as much as you can. As smoking and chewing tobacco are linked to dry mouth, it is best to avoid them as well.

It is a good idea to moisturize your living area using room vaporizers. Finally, maintain good oral hygiene and visit your dentist on a regular basis.


The information provided in this article does not constitute medical advice and should not be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. If you have a health problem you should consult a licensed physician.

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