Learn About Ailments | Dry mouth

Dry mouth

Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is caused by a lack of saliva production, and can make the mouth more vulnerable to infection. It can occur as a side effect to some medications, treatments and infections. Nerve damage, dehydration and lifestyle choices such as smoking can also have an effect.
Dry mouth

In This Article
Causes of dry mouth Symptoms of dry mouth
Diagnosis of dry mouth Related terms

Other than breathing through the mouth, a decrease in saliva is due to general causes and not because of oral problems however the condition can lead to problems in the mouth such as tooth decay.

There are a number of causes of dry mouth including:
  • Medications – dry mouth is a side-effect of many drugs and medicines but the most common include those used for treating depression, anxiety and allergies. Drugs used to control blood pressure, urinary incontinence and neurological diseases such as Parkinson's can also cause dry mouth.
  • Age – ageing isn't a risk factor of dry mouth however the elderly are more likely to take medications or have health conditions that cause the problem.
  • Cancer treatment – chemotherapy reduces saliva production and alters its nature while radiotherapy can damage salivary glands in the head and neck decreasing the amount of saliva produced.
  • Damage to nerves – injury or surgery which results in nerve damage to the head or neck can trigger dry mouth.
  • Smoking – tobacco can reduce the amount of saliva in the mouth.
Other health conditions that can cause dry mouth include:
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Snoring
  • Dehydration

A lack of saliva production in the mouth can cause a number of symptoms such as:
  • Dry mouth
  • Thick saliva
  • Sore lips
  • Cracked skin at the corners of the mouth
  • Halitosis
  • Sore throat
  • Problems with taste sensation
  • Infections
  • Tooth decay
  • Gum disease
  • Plaque build up

If you suffer with persistent dry mouth then visit your GP. The doctor will examine your mouth and question you about any other symptoms you may be experiencing to rule out an underlying cause for the problem.

If necessary, your blood and saliva will be tested to help identify the cause. You may also require a visit to your dentist to check for any oral problems such as gum disease and tooth decay.

Mouth infection
Oral hygiene
Bad breath

Therapies to consider
Acupuncture Ayurvedic Medicine Herbal Medicine
Naturopathy Nutrition


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