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    Dry Mouth

    Health    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 be present in a patient.
    References: 1, 2, 3

    Common Causes of Dry Mouth

    The following are the most common causes of Dry Mouth:
    • radiation therapy
    • chemotherapy
    • nerve damage
    References: 1, 4

    Risk Factors of 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
    References: 1

    Occurrence of Dry Mouth.

    Degree of Occurrence

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

    Common Age Group

    Dry Mouth most commonly occurs in the following age group:
    • Can happen at any age

    Common Gender

    Dry Mouth most commonly occurs in the following gender:
    • Not gender specific
    References: 5

    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
    References: 1, 5

    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
    References: 6

    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
    References: 6

    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
    References: 7

    Questions - Dry Mouth

    Yes, a symptom of dry mouth (xerostomia) could be bad breath. Dry mouth happens when there is not enough saliva to keep the mouth wet. Bad breath can occur because one of the functions of saliva is to keep germs like bacteria and fungus in check. This is also why dry mouth can increase the risk for tooth decay.
    1. Dry Mouth. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. URL: Accessed June 17, 2018.
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    1. NIH Dry Mouth - Accessed: February 20, 2017.
    2. Mayo Clinic Dry mouth http://www.Mayo - Accessed: February 20, 2017.
    3. Navazesh M. Dry mouth: aging and oral health. Compend Contin Educ Dent. 2002;23(10 Suppl):41-8 - Accessed: February 20, 2017.
    4. A Villa, S Abati Risk factors and symptoms associated with xerostomia: a cross-sectional study - Accessed: February 20, 2017.
    5. Wikipedia Xerostomia - Accessed: February 20, 2017.
    6. Mayo Clinic Dry mouth - Accessed: February 20, 2017.
    7. NCBI Non‐drug treatments for dry mouth symptoms - Accessed: February 20, 2017.
    8. Source:

    Last updated date

    This page was last updated on 8/06/2018.
    This page provides information for Dry Mouth.

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