What is Xerostomia?
Xerostomia is commonly known as dry mouth and it is caused by a lack of saliva in the mouth. Dry mouth is often due to the side effects of certain medications, aging issues, radiation therapy for cancer and less commonly can be caused by a condition that directly affects the salivary glands.
However, almost everyone will experience dry mouth at some point in their life, specifically in the morning if you have slept with your mouth open during the night. This is quite common and completely normal, however, if you are experiencing consistent or abnormal mouth dryness you should talk with your physician about possible causes.
Signs and Symptoms of Xerostomia
1. Bad Breath - Read our full article on causes of bad breath
2. Feeling of dryness in the mouth
3. Thick and stringy saliva
4. Difficulty chewing, speaking and swallowing
5. Dry or sore throat and hoarseness
6. Dry or grooved tongue
7. A changed sense of taste
8. Problems wearing dentures
Common Causes of Xerostomia
1. Medications - dry mouth is a side effect of numerous types of prescribed and over the counter medications
4. Cancer therapy/radiation
5. Nerve damage in the head and neck area
6. Snoring/mouth breathing
7. Tobacco and alcohol
8. Health conditions - such as diabetes, thrush, stroke, and many others
9. Illegal drug use
Issues from Xerostomia
1. Increased tooth decay and gum disease
2. Mouth sores
3. Thrush (yeast infection of the mouth)
Taking Action to Treat/Prevent Dry Mouth
If you have been experiencing dry mouth there are several steps you can take to treat and prevent it from reoccurring, the first being mindfully breathing through your nose and making sure you are drinking plenty of water. Next, check the labels of any prescribed and over the counter medications for side effects which include xerostomia or dry mouth. Lastly, seek medical attention if you are experiencing abnormal or persistent mouth dryness.