Most of the time, the inside of the mouth is moist. If that moisture is chronically absent, this condition is called xerostomia or dry mouth which happens when the salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva.
What little saliva is made becomes thick and the mouth feels sticky or dry. Chewing, swallowing, or speaking may become difficult and things may not taste the same. The tongue can become dry and grooved, and bad breath may develop. The throat also can be affected, turning dry or sore resulting in hoarseness.
If you are experiencing a variety of these symptoms, you probably have dry mouth:
In addition to these annoying symptoms, overall health can suffer. Dry mouth may cause more plaque than usual to form in the mouth, causing cavities and gum disease. An oral yeast infection, called thrush, also can develop, as can sores, both inside the mouth and at the corners of the lips. In severe cases, difficulty chewing and swallowing can interfere with good nutrition.
Possible causes can include:
A dry mouth also may stem from health conditions, such as stroke, salivary gland disorders, diabetes, thrush, dementia, autoimmune diseases.
Self-help for dry mouth
Help for dry mouth is available. The answer may be as simple as asking your physician to adjust your medications or try a different one or using an over-the-counter rinse, mouth moisturizer or artificial saliva. Typically these come in a spray, rinse or gel, which can help moisten your mouth whenever it feels dry.
Below are some steps you can take to reduce symptoms of dry mouth.
To rule out an underlying health condition and monitor plaque and cavities, it’s important to seek dental care for dry mouth. With proper treatment, the mouth will become moist and functional again.