Dry mouth is a very common condition characterized by unusual dryness in the mouth. Along with the inconvenience that it causes, it also affects the taste of food and health of the oral cavity. The mouth becomes unusually dry when the production of saliva is inadequate. This condition is found to be more common among women, when compared to men. Diagnosis and treatment of dry mouth is important to prevent further complications, particularly for the health of oral cavity.
The most common causes of this condition include:
- Certain medications – Dryness of the mouth is a side effect of certain types of medications, like antihistamines, decongestants, and certain bronchodilators.
- Certain infections – Health conditions, like diabetes, eczema, cystic fibrosis, and rheumatoid arthritis, have dry mouth as a side effect.
- Nerve problems – Damage to nerves, especially the one in the head and neck may result in dry mouth.
- Dehydration – This is one of the common causes of dryness in mouth. Any condition that may result in dehydration, including fever, excessive sweating, vomiting, and burns can lead to this condition.
- Smoking and chewing tobacco – Both these habits affects the production of saliva in the mouth aggravating dryness of mouth.
Dry mouth is characterized by:
- Dry feeling in the oral cavity
- Increased thirst
- Cracked lips
- Mouth sores
- Dry throat
- Burning feeling in the tongue
- Difficulty in swallowing and tasting
- Sore throat
If left untreated, the condition may lead to gum disease, tooth decay, and other mouth infections.
Treatment of dry mouth depends on the actual cause. If the condition is caused as a side effect of medications, doctors may recommend to change certain medications to alleviate the symptoms. Some other simple remedies include chewing sugar-free gum and keeping oneself well hydrated by drinking plenty of water. One should avoid breathing through the mouth when the dryness is more. Oral moisturizing rinse would be helpful in improving the condition. Medications are also available to increase the production of saliva by the glands. Regular visits to the dentist are a must to avoid the chances of gum infections. Oral lubricants containing glycerine is recommended to reduce the symptoms like difficulty in swallowing. Those who develop fungal infection due to dry mouth may require antifungal treatment. Cracked lips can be treated by applying petroleum jelly.