I have dry mouth.

Characteristics & what to look for

Dry mouth, also referred to as xerostomia, may cause your mouth/throat to feel sticky and rough. You may notice that chewing and swallowing are more difficult with certain foods. Your tongue can be dry or irritated. It can also cause increased thirst.

Commonly mistaken for

Dry mouth is a subjective feeling, but it can be confused with simply eating dry foods, low fluid intake, or sleeping with your mouth open. These conditions are temporary and may not be a cause for concern.

Causes of the symptom and effects

Common causes for dry mouth include:

  • Medications (allergy, blood pressure, antidepressants, muscle relaxers)
  • Aging
  • Diseases of the salivary glands
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy
  • Tobacco use

Dry mouth can increase your risk of developing cavities and periodontal conditions such as gingivitis and/or periodontitis. You may also be at higher risk for other mouth infections.

What you can do at home to help ease the symptoms

There are many things that you can do at home to help ease the symptoms of dry mouth, including using dry mouth specific rinses, saliva substitutes, sipping plain water throughout the day, and sucking on sugar-free candies or gum. Make sure to avoid caffeine intake and mouthwashes that contain alcohol.

Treatment and how we can help

If your dry mouth persists, make sure to visit your medical and dental professionals for treatment. They may make adjustments to your medications or recommend additional topical prescription treatments. It’s critical to tightly monitor your dental health if you have dry mouth, and it’s beneficial to have more frequent professional hygiene visits. Additional fluoride also may help in the prevention of cavities.

Long term effects if left untreated and negative progression

Persistent dry mouth can have serious dental complications. Cavities and periodontal disease can cause tooth loss quickly, but they can be prevented if you seek care quickly after you notice your dry mouth.