Dry Mouth

Also called: Xerostomia

Dry mouth is the feeling that there is not enough saliva in your mouth. Everyone has a dry mouth once in a while - if they are nervous, upset or under stress. But if you have a dry mouth all or most of the time, it can be uncomfortable and can lead to serious health problems.

Symptoms of dry mouth include

  • A sticky, dry feeling in the mouth
  • Trouble chewing, swallowing, tasting, or speaking
  • A burning feeling in the mouth
  • A dry feeling in the throat
  • Cracked lips
  • A dry, rough tongue
  • Mouth sores
  • An infection in the mouth

Dry mouth is not a normal part of aging. Causes include some medicines, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and nerve damage. Salivary gland diseases, Sjogren's syndrome, HIV/AIDS, and diabetes can also cause dry mouth. Treatment depends on the cause. Things you can do include sipping water, avoiding drinks with caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol, and chewing sugarless gum or sucking on sugarless hard candy.

NIH: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research

Symptoms of Dry Mouth

The following features are indicative of Dry Mouth:
  • dryness in the mouth
  • bad breath
  • burning feeling in the mouth
  • dry feeling in the throat
  • cracked lips
  • dry and rough tongue
  • mouth sores
  • infection in the mouth
  • difficulty chewing, speaking and swallowing
  • gum irritation
  • gum disease
It is possible that Dry Mouth shows no physical symptoms and still is present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Dry Mouth

The following are the most common causes of Dry Mouth:
  • radiation therapy
  • chemotherapy
  • nerve damage

Risk Factors for Dry Mouth

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Dry Mouth:
  • certain medications such as antihistamines, decongestants or muscle relaxants
  • older age
  • chemotherapy drugs
  • radiation therapy
  • alcohol consumption

Prevention of Dry Mouth

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Dry Mouth. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • chewing sugarless gum
  • avoid drinks with caffeine
  • sip sugarless drink during meals
  • avoid alcohol use
  • avoid sticky and sugary foods
  • use toothpaste with fluoride in it
  • avoid spicy food
  • use humidifier at night

Occurrence of Dry Mouth

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Dry Mouth cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Dry Mouth can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Dry Mouth can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Dry Mouth

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Dry Mouth:
  • Sialometry: To calculate the stimulated or unstimulated salivary flow
  • Sialography: To view the blockage of a duct due to a calculus
  • Chest x-ray: To exclude sarcoidosis
  • Ultrasonography and magnetic resonance imaging: To exclude Sjögren's syndrome or neoplasia
  • Schirmer test of lacrimal flow: To diagnose xerophthalmia

Doctor for Diagnosis of Dry Mouth

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Dry Mouth:
  • Dentists
  • Physician

Complications of Dry Mouth if untreated

Yes, Dry Mouth causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Dry Mouth is left untreated:
  • increased plaque
  • tooth decay and gum disease
  • mouth sores
  • fungal infection in the mouth
  • coated tongue
  • sores or split skin at the corners of the mouth
  • cracked lips
  • poor nutrition from having problems with chewing and swallowing

Self-care for Dry Mouth

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Dry Mouth:
  • Sip water or sugar-free drink: Moisten your mouth and drink water during meals to aid chewing and swallowing
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol: Reduces the dryness and irritation chances
  • Don't use tobacco containing products: Prevent from dryness and mouth irritation

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Dry Mouth

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Dry Mouth:
  • Acupuncture: Helps in increasing the saliva production

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Dry Mouth.
Mouth Disorders
Salivary Gland Disorders
Sjogren's Syndrome

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