Everyone has a dry mouth once in a while. It may be a result of being dehydrated or occasionally sleeping with your mouth open. At such times, drinking water or other fluids can resolve the issue. 

However, if you have a dry mouth most or all of the time, it can be uncomfortable and can indicate underlying health problems. Let’s find out more about dry mouth. 

Dry mouth or xerostomia is a condition in which your salivary glands do not make enough saliva to keep your mouth wet. 

A dry mouth can cause difficulties in chewing, swallowing, and speaking. It can also increase your chances of developing dental decay and other infections in the mouth.

Causes of a Dry Mouth

There can be various causes for a dry mouth, including:

  • Medications: Such as those used to treat high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, congestion, and pain. 

  • Medical Conditions: Such as diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and Sjogren's syndrome.

  • Cancer Therapy: Including radiation and chemotherapy. Radiation therapy to the head and neck can damage salivary glands and chemotherapy can alter the nature and quantity of saliva produced.

  • Dehydration: May be due to exercising or playing in the sun and insufficient fluid intake. 

  • Ageing: Use of certain medications, changes in the body's ability to process these medications, and long-term health problems due to ageing can result in a dry mouth. 

  • Nerve Damage: Resulting from an injury or surgery to your head and neck area. Nerve damage can affect the salivary glands and result in a dry mouth.

  • Mental Health Conditions: Such as stress, anxiety, and depression can make your body produce more of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol can change the composition of your saliva and cause a dry mouth. 

  • Unhealthy Lifestyle Choices: Such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and recreational drug intake can cause a dry mouth.

  • Snoring And Mouth Breathing: Breathing through your mouth or snoring can cause the saliva in your mouth to evaporate, resulting in a dry mouth. 

Symptoms of a Dry Mouth

The symptoms from having a dry mouth include:

  • A sticky, dry feeling in the mouth

  • A burning feeling in the mouth

  • A dry feeling in the throat

  • Trouble in chewing, swallowing, tasting, or speaking

  • Cracked lips

  • Cracks at the corners of the mouth

  • A dry, rough tongue

  • Mouth sores

  • Thick, sticky, or stringy saliva

  • Change in taste

  • Fungal infections in the mouth

  • Problems with wearing dentures

  • Frequent plaque formation, tooth decay, and gum disease

  • Hoarseness

  • Increased thirst

Remedies For a Dry Mouth

Follow these tips to keep your mouth lubricated and prevent the symptoms of a dry mouth.

  • Change your medication. Consult your doctor about the dry mouth, and if your medication is causing it, the doctor might change the medicine or adjust the dosage accordingly. 

  • Stay hydrated. Sip on water, non-carbonated fluids, and sugarless drinks or suck on ice chips often to keep your mouth hydrated. 

  • Steer clear of caffeine. Avoid drinks with caffeine, such as coffee, tea, and some sodas as much as possible, as caffeine can be dehydrating. 

  • Chew sugarless gum. You can chew on gum or suck on sugarless hard candy to stimulate saliva flow in your mouth. Gum with xylitol may also help prevent cavities.

  • Stop consumption of tobacco and alcohol. These will just dry out your mouth further. 

  • Consciously breathe through your nose. Avoid breathing through the nose if it was causing a dry mouth in your case. 

  • Try over-the-counter products for a dry mouth. Consult your doctor and use over-the-counter products specifically designed for a dry mouth, such as artificial saliva products, and dry-mouth specific toothpaste and mouthwashes.

  • Use a humidifier at night. If the air in your bedroom is making your dry mouth worse, add moisture to the air by using a humidifier at night. 

Saliva is essential to the well-being of your teeth, gums, and mouth. A dry mouth is a risk factor for poor oral health. So, if you think you have a persistent dry mouth, consult your dentist without delay.

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.