experiences dry mouth once in a while—when one is nervous, upset, or under
stress, for instance. But dry mouth that persists all or most of the time
is a condition in which the mouth does not produce enough saliva, or spit, to
maintain its wetness. It can be uncomfortable and can lead to serious
health problems. Dry mouth...
cause difficulties in tasting, chewing, swallowing, and speaking.
increase your chances of developing dental decay and other infections in the
be a sign of certain diseases and conditions.
be caused by certain medications or medical treatments.
not a normal part of aging, so if you think you have dry mouth, see your dentist
or physician—there are things you can do to get relief.
sticky, dry feeling in the mouth
chewing, swallowing, tasting, or speaking
burning feeling in the mouth
dry feeling in the throat
dry, tough tongue
infection in the mouth
Saliva does more than
keep the mouth wet. It helps digest food, protects teeth from decay, prevents
infection by controlling bacteria and fungi in the mouth, and makes it possible
for you to chew and swallow.
Without enough saliva, you may also not get the proper nutrients from the
food you eat since you cannot chew and swallow certain foods.
People get dry mouth
when the glands in the mouth that make saliva are not working properly. There
are several reasons why these salivary glands may not be functioning:
effects of some medicines.
More than 400 medicines can cause the salivary glands to produce less saliva.
Medicines for high blood pressure and depression often cause dry mouth.
Some diseases affect the salivary glands. Sjögren's Syndrome, HIV/AIDS,
diabetes, and Parkinson's disease can all cause dry mouth.
The salivary glands can be damaged if they are exposed to radiation during
Drugs used to treat cancer can make saliva thicker, causing the mouth to feel
Injury to the head or neck can damage the nerves that signal the salivary glands
to produce saliva.
will depend on the specific cause of the problem:
your dry mouth is caused by medication, your physician might change your
medicine or adjust the dosage.
your salivary glands are not working properly, but can still produce some
saliva, your physician or dentist might give you medicine that helps the glands
physician or dentist might suggest that you use artificial saliva to keep your
Things you can do
to relieve symptoms of dry mouth:
water or sugarless drinks often.
drinks with caffeine, such as coffee, tea, and some sodas. Caffeine can dry out
water or a sugarless drink during meals. This will make chewing and swallowing
sugarless gum or suck on sugarless hard candy to stimulate saliva flow; citrus,
cinnamon, or mint-flavored candies are good choices.
tobacco and alcohol. They dry out the mouth.
aware that spicy or salty foods may cause pain in a dry mouth.
a humidifier at night.
Remember, if you have
dry mouth, you need to be extra careful to keep your teeth healthy. Make sure
brush your teeth at least twice a day.
your teeth every day.
your dentist or physician about using a particular type of toothpaste.
sticky, sugary foods. If you do eat them, brush immediately afterwards.
your dentist for a check-up at least twice a year. Your dentist might give you
solution that you can rinse with to help keep your teeth healthy.
is a major cause of dry mouth. You can get information about dry mouth related
to Sjögren's Syndrome from your doctor.