Dry Mouth
Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is a condition that occurs when saliva glands in the mouth don't work properly, causing a parched feeling in the mout...

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Dry Mouth

Dry mouth (xerostomia) is a condition that occurs when salivary glands in the mouth don’t work properly. It causes a parched feeling in the mouth. Other symptoms include a rough tongue, mouth sores, and cracked lips.

Saliva is a necessary part of the digestion process. It’s needed to moisten and break down food and works as a major defense mechanism to help your body maintain good dental health. Saliva protects the mouth against gum disease and tooth decay.  While not a serious medical condition, dry mouth can be a sign of a larger medical problem.

Causes of Dry Mouth

Many things can cause dry mouth. If you smoke, you have a greater chance of having dry mouth. Some diseases such as diabetes can also lower the amount of saliva. Medications can also affect the amount of saliva you have. Some of the other causes of dry mouth include:

  • stress
  • appetite suppressants
  • autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis or Sjögren's syndrome
  • botulism
  • chemotherapy
  • radiation therapy of the head and neck
  • tranquillizers
  • marijuana

Treatments for Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is usually a temporary and treatable condition. Sometimes, the treatment depends upon the cause of dry mouth. In most cases, it can be treated by doing one or more of the following:

  • sipping water often
  • sucking on ice cubes or sugarless candy
  • chewing sugarless gum
  • avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco
  • avoiding salty or spicy foods
  • limiting sugar intake
  • using a humidifier in your bedroom overnight
  • taking over-the-counter saliva substitutes
Written by: the Healthline Editorial Team
Edited by:
Medically Reviewed by: George Krucik, MD, MBA
Published: Nov 24, 2014
Published By: Healthline Networks, Inc.
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