Dry mouth – Xerostomia, Causes and Its Treatment


A dry mouth, most commonly known as xerostomia, refers to any condition that leaves a person with an unusually dry feeling in the mouth. Often, it results from a decrease in the amount of saliva produced by the glands in your mouth (salivary glands). Dry mouth can also be a side effect of any medication that one may be using at a given time.

dry mouth

There are different home remedies for dry mouth that can be used to assist one in reducing the feeling of dryness in the mouth. Some of these include increasing your fluid intake, eating cayenne pepper, eating fennel seeds, rinsing your mouth with coconut oil, and drinking a quarter cup of aloe vera juice on a daily basis to cure the feeling of dryness in the mouth. A person who experiences feeling of dryness in the mouth should focus on restricting their caffeine intake. Ice can also be placed in the mouth to keep it moist. One should also keep the lips free from dryness by applying Vaseline as often as possible.

The importance of saliva in the mouth

Saliva is seen as a general substance that is produced by the mouth for various functions. Saliva cleanses our mouths, moistens and digests our food on a daily basis. However, there are times when one may not have enough saliva in the mouth to perform the necessary functions. As a result, you are left with a dry and uncomfortable feeling in the mouth.

Complications that result from a dry mouth

A dry mouth leaves the infected person with difficulty in swallowing. Based on this fact, people may choke on their food while eating. For this reason, they may find the need to constantly drink water while eating. Based on the fact that saliva aids digestion, it is therefore possible for digestive disorders to develop (due to a lack of saliva in the mouth). Eating dry foods become impossible, as the person will experience extreme difficulty in swallowing those foods. In addition, saliva is known to help control the bacteria and fungi in your mouth. A dry mouth can therefore increase in your chances of tooth decay and infection inside the mouth.

What Causes Dry Mouth?

  • It is the side effect of certain medications. Dry mouth is a common side effect of numerous prescription drugs, such as those used to treat depression, anxiety, pain, allergies, colds, obesity, etc.
  • It is a side effect of certain diseases and infections. These diseases include Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, anaemia, cystic fibrosis, hypertension, stroke and mumps.
  • It is the side effect of some medical treatments. Some medical treatments result in damage to the salivary glands (the glands that make saliva). This results in a reduced amount of saliva produced by the salivary glands.
  • Nerve damage can also cause a dry mouth. Dry mouth can result from nerve damage to the head and neck area from an injury or surgery.
  • Dehydration can be the result of a dry mouth. There are various conditions that lead to dehydration. These include fever, excessive sweating, vomiting, diarrhoea, blood loss and burns which can trigger a dry feeling in the mouth.
  • When a person has their salivary glands removed surgically, a feeling of dryness can be experienced in the mouth.
  • Your lifestyle can influence the dryness in your mouth. Smoking or chewing tobacco can affect how much saliva your mouth produces. It may trigger a feeling of dryness in the mouth. Breathing with your mouth open on a regular basis can also contribute to a dry mouth.

Symptoms of having a dry mouth

Some of the common symptoms of a dry mouth includes:

  • A sticky or dry feeling in the mouth on a regular basis.
  • Frequent thirst.
  • Sores in the mouth. Skin that has been split at the corners of the mouth and cracked lips.
  • A dry feeling in the throat.
  • A burning feeling in the mouth, especially on the tongue.
  • A dry, red, raw tongue.
  • Having problems with your speech or troubles in tasting your food, chewing and swallowing.
  • A feeling of dryness in the nasal passage area as well as a sore throat.
  • Experiencing bad breath.

Why is dry mouth seen as a problem?

Despite the fact that the above mentioned symptoms may be experienced, dry mouth can increase one’s risk of gingivitis (gum disease), tooth decay and mouth infections such as thrush. A dry mouth can also make is difficult for one to wear dentures.

How can dry mouth be treated?

In order to increase the flow of your saliva, it is good to consider doing the following things:

  • Suck on sugar-free candy or chew sugar-free gum on a regular basis.
  • Drink enough water on a daily basis. This will assist in keeping your mouth moist.
  • Brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste. Make use of a fluoride rinse and visit your dentist regularly.
  • Breathe through your nose as much as you can. Refrain from breathing through the mouth as much as possible.
  • Use a room vaporizer to add moisture to the bedroom air.
  • Use any over-the-counter artificial saliva substitute.
Treating a dry mouth by using a saliva substitution:

When selecting a mouthwash, it is important to note that one should choose a product that does not contain alcohol. This includes Biotene, as these alcohol-based products will cause a person to experience increased feelings of dryness in the mouth.

Xerostomia is seen as a problem to a number of people. It therefore becomes important to follow the necessary methods in order to reduce the feeling of dryness. As a result, further diseases will also be prevented, leading to an easier life for the infected person.

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