What is Dry Mouth?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Oct 03, 2012
Quick Bites

  • It is more common in elderly people.
  • Dry mouth can affect the speech, swallowing, dentures.
  • Some common symptoms are speaking, trouble tasting, chewing and swallowing.
  • The prognosis depends on the underlying cause of the dry mouth


We all know that saliva is necessary to moisten the food and to cleanse the mouth and when you don’t make enough saliva; your mouth gets dry and uncomfortable. A condition called nxerostomia, popularly known as dry mouth. It is more common in elderly people. Dry mouth can affect the speech, swallowing, dentures and can even increases the bacteria in the mouth causing bad breath and tooth decay in the long term.

Dry mouth

Causes of Dry Mouth

  • Side effects of certain medications and medical conditions like Sjogren’s syndrome.
  • Side effects certain treatment medical treatments.
  • Nerve damage to the head and neck
  • Damage to the salivary glands
  • Dehydration, surgical removal of the salivary glands
  • Smoking and chewing tobacco


Symptoms of Dry Mouth

  • A sticky and drying feeling in the mouth
  • Frequent thirst
  • Sores in the mouth and a dry a feeling in the throa
  • A burning and tingling sensation in the mouth
  • A dry, red or raw tongue
  • Facing problems while speaking, trouble tasting, chewing and swallowing
  • Hoarseness, dry nasal passages and sore throat, bad breath


How is it Treated?

If your taking certain medications that may cause dry mouth, then ask your doctor to adjust your dose or ask him to switch you to a different drug that does not cause dry mouth. Your doctor may also prescribe you an oral rinse that will help in restoring moisture or he/she may also prescribe a medication that boosts saliva production called Salagen.

Some other ways that can help you improve the saliva flow:

  • Suck on sugar free candy or chew sugar free gum
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Use a fluoride tooth paste
  • Avoid breathing through mouth
  • Use an over- the- counter artificial saliva substitute


The prognosis depends on the underlying cause of the dry mouth. The focus should be on the removal of the cause and if the cause can’t be eliminated, then the affected person should be prevented from getting caries and candida yeast infection. Simple techniques can be used to stimulate the saliva like by taking a substitute for saliva and protecting the teeth and surrounding tissues. Good prognosis can be achieved by avoiding the side effects of dry mouth.

Image Courtesy: Getty

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