What is dry mouth?


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Know the basics

What is dry mouth?

Dry mouth is a condition when your mouth unusually gets dry. It is mostly due to the dehydration, when you are nervous, or the reduction of saliva in your mouth. It’s frequently a side effect of medication as well.

Dry mouth also increases the risk of tooth decay by neutralizing acids produced by bacteria, limiting bacterial growth and cleaning food particles.

How common is dry mouth?

Dry mouth is very common. It can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of dry mouth?

The common symptoms of dry mouth are:

  • Feeling dry in your mouth or throat or tongue;
  • Frequent thirst;
  • Thick and stringy saliva;
  • Bad smell of breath;
  • Troubles with tasting, chewing, swallowing or speaking.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Know the causes

What causes dry mouth?

  • Medications: some certain medications you are using may leave side effects causing dry mouth. Those drugs might be used to treat depression, neuropathy, anxiety, some muscle and pain medications.
  • Dehydration: it can come after a fever, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.
  • Aging: older people tend to have more health problems that can cause dry mouth.
  • Cancer treatment: chemotherapy drugs can affect the saliva production.
  • Nerve damage: after a surgery or injury, you may have a dry mouth resulted from nerve damage.
  • Other health conditions such as the autoimmune disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, HIV/AIDS, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease can cause dry mouth as a result, even breathing with mouth open can also contribute to dry mouth.
  • Smoking: using or chewing tobacco can affect the amount of saliva in your mouth.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for dry mouth?

There are many risk factors for dry mouth, such as:

  • Abusing medications;
  • Sjogren’s syndrome;
  • Diabetes;
  • Depression;
  • High blood pressure;
  • Alzheimer’s disease;
  • Addison’s disease;
  • Alcoholic cirrhosis;

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is dry mouth diagnosed?

Your doctor or dentist will examine your mouth and ask questions about your medical history as well as the medications you are using.

Blood tests or scans are sometimes required to test your saliva production.

If you are likely to have Sjogren’s syndrome, your doctor will take a sample of biopsy from salivary glands for testing.

How is dry mouth treated?

Dry mouth treatment will depend on what is causing the problem:

  • If dry mouth is caused by the medications, your doctor may adjust the dosage or change to other medications to control this condition.
  • If your salivary glands are not working properly but can still produce some saliva, your doctor or dentist might prescribe you a medicine that helps the glands work better. Protecting your teeth might be also recommended.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage dry mouth?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with dry mouth:

  • Keep moisturizing your mouth by drinking water or unsweetened drink or sugar–free gum;
  • Avoid breathing by your mouth, breathe through your nose instead;
  • Moisturize your lips to soothe dry areas;
  • Avoid products that can affect dry mouth, such as caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, sugary or acidic foods;
  • Take care of your mouth by using a fluoride toothpaste and rise, floss your teeth and remember to set an appointment with your dentist regularly to prevent dry mouth and tooth decay.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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