Dry mouth (or xerostomia) results from an inadequate amount of saliva in the mouth. Saliva helps moisten and cleanse our mouths, aids in digestion, and prevents infection from bacteria and fungi. In addition, dry mouth can cause discomfort and impede the ability to speak easily.
Dry mouth can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Side effects from medications or medical treatments
- Removal of the salivary gland
- Side effects from diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, high-blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis and Sjogrens syndrome
- Head and neck nerve damage due to surgery or trauma
- Habits such as smoking, chewing tobacco, snoring and open mouth breathing
If your dry mouth relates to a medication, consult your physician. He or she may be able to adjust the dosage or prescribe a different drug that doesn’t reduce saliva. For other causes of dry mouth, consider these relief measures.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
- Chew gum or suck on sugar-free hard candy to stimulate saliva production.
- Use a fluoride toothpaste and oral rinse to moisturize mouth tissue and prevent bacteria.
- Breathe through your nose (with the mouth closed).
- Try over-the-counter or prescription medication and moisturizers that stimulate the saliva glands.
- Visit your dentist regularly to monitor and evaluate the condition.