Xerostomia is a condition related to the salivary glands, which help keep the mouth moist, thus preventing decay and other oral health problems. When the salivary glands do not work properly, the amount of saliva in the mouth decreases, resulting in xerostomia--or, as it's more commonly known, dry mouth.
Dry mouth can be caused by prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. There are more than 400 medications that can contribute to mouth dryness, including antihypertensives, anti-depressants, painkillers, tranquilizers, diuretics, and antihistamines. Dry mouth also can be caused by radiation therapy and chemotherapy, hormonal alterations, or diseases, such as diabetes, lupus, Alzheimer's disease, and kidney disease. Other contributing factors include stress, anxiety, depression, nutritional deficiencies, and dysfunction of the immune system.
Symptoms of dry mouth include:
- Increased need to sip or drink fluids when swallowing
- Difficulty speaking
- Difficulty swallowing
- A burning sensation or soreness in the mouth
- A diminished or altered sense of taste
- Increased susceptibility to oral infection
- Sleep interruptions due to thirst
- Difficulty wearing dentures
- Tooth decay
- Stale or bad breath
If you experience any of the symptoms, make sure to let us know. A variety of methods are available to help patients manage dry mouth.