Dry Mouth

What is Dry Mouth?

Dry mouth is a medical condition where a person’s mouth will have reduced amount or absence of saliva. It is also known as Xerostomia in medical terms, and some of the other names for this condition are pasties, doughmouth, cottonmouth,
dooth or des. This condition is usually found when then salivary glands do not function properly, causing dry mouth. There are many effects of Dry Mouth like speech disabilities, increase in dental cavities, bad breath, and even mouth infections such as thrush. Some patients with dry mouth have even found it difficult to enjoy their food.
Dry Mouth or Xerostomia is usually a symptom of a disease rather than a disease by itself. It has also occurred as a side effect of some medication and adjusting the dosage can reduce it.


  • It is usually side effect of some medication and adjusting the dosage can reduce it.
  • Dry mouth has also been associated with aging and it is most commonly found in older adults. The major reason for this could be that the elderly usually take a higher amount of medicines when compared to therest of the population and so has a greater risk of contracting dry mouth.
  • Some medications like antidepressants and antihistamines can also cause dry mouth as a side effect.
  • Cancer therapy that includes chemotherapy can damage the salivary gland, thus drastically reducing the production of saliva.
  • Surgeries that involves head and neck area also known to cause dry mouth.
  • Lifestyle habits like chewing or smoking tobacco
  • Playing or exercising in the hot sun can also lead to dehydration.
  • Xerostomia has also been recorded in some cases as symptom of a serious systemic disease that affects the whole body. Some of the systemic diseases that can cause dry mouth include systemic lupuserythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, sarcoidosis, Amyloidosis, Sjögren's syndrome, Parkinson's disease, Diabetes, and even hypothyroidism.
  • Dry mouth has also been experienced by patients who suffer from health conditions like anxiety disorders, depression and even sleeping with the mouth open.

Signs of Dry Mouth

Some of the common signs of Xerostomia or dry mouth are:

• Bad breath
• Inflammation and splitting or cracking of lips.
• Cracking or splitting of inner lining of mouth. Some sides may become sore.
• Mouth becomes dry.
• Taste disorders
• Mouth infections such as thrush.
• Painful tongue.
• Increased thirstiness especially at night.
• Tongue ulcers
• Frequent gum diseases
• Tooth decay and plaque
• Difficulty in speaking
• Difficulty while swallowing and chewing
• Salivary gland infection
• Difficulty wearing dentures
• Saliva becomes sticky
• Saliva becomes stringy


The treatment of dry mouth can in turn reduce the risk of mouth sores, gum diseases and tooth decay. In most cases, the reduction in the production of saliva creates dry mouth, so by stimulating the salivary glands to increase the production, the dry mouth can be treated to a great extent.

The doctors would suggest the following to help in increasing the production of saliva.

  • Sipping sugarless fluids frequently
  • Avoid all aerated drinks and drinks with caffeine.
  • Always take professional help regarding oral health products 
  • Use of sugarless gum
  • Avoid the use of tobacco or alcohol
  • Using humidifier at night
  • Regular oral hygiene

The doctor might reduce the dosage of the medicines that is actually causing the dry mouth. If all these measures do not work, then the doctor might prescribe medications to moisturize the mouth.

Authored By Dr Sanjay N - Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopaedics, Bangalore

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