Dry Mouth

Dry mouth (Xerostomia) is a condition resulting from decreased or ceased production of saliva. The saliva becomes thick, and oral mucosa membrane becomes irritated, rough and red.  There will be the onset of soreness and candidiasis in a chronic case.

Symptoms of dry mouth include:
  • Dry feeling inside the mouth (tongue, throat)
  • Difficulty chewing, speaking, tasting, and swallowing
  • Redness of mucous membrane
  • Increase dental caries
  • Onset of Infection and candidiasis in a chronic case
Saliva functionality:
  • The enzymes in saliva help digest food
  • Prevent cavity by removing food particles from the teeth
  • Improve taste
  • Tissue lubrication
  • Makes it easy to chew and swallow
  • Prevent bad breath
  • Help retain full dentures
  • Reduces the acidity produced by waste products, protect the enamel from being damaged by high acidity
Causes of dry mouth
  1. Side effect from medications - both prescription and nonprescription drugs include antihistamine, hypertension, allergy, anxiety, depression, and pain medications are the most common cause of dry mouth
  2. Radiation therapy or chemotherapy to the head and neck area
  3. Autoimmune disorder such as Sjögren's syndrome, systemic lupus erythematosus
  4. Salivary gland disease or salivary gland disorder 
  5. Obstruction of salivary ducts
  6. Nerve damage at the head and neck area
  7. Dehydration due to fever, diarrhea, loss of blood, vomiting, burns
  8. Absent of salivary glands or damaged salivary glands
  9. Mouth breathing
  10. Poorly control diabetes, HIV/Aids 
  11. Use of tobacco products will aggravate dry mouth
  12. Use of alcohol, caffeine

 Management of dry mouth:
  • Use artificial saliva substitutes, e.g., Oasis Moisturizing Mouthwash or Biotene Oral Rinse. These products do not increase saliva flow, but will lubricate the tissue and reduce irritation from dry mouth
  • Use saliva stimulant medications to increase saliva flow, e.g., Pilocarpine, Cevimeline
  • Chew sugarless gum with xylitol, e.g., Xlear Spry Gum to stimulate saliva flow
  • Avoid using an irritant mouthwash that contains alcohol, hydrogen peroxide
  • Avoid using toothpaste that contain sodium lauryl sulfate, use Epic Dental Xylitol Toothpaste instead
  • If your medications cause dry mouth, consult your physician before altering or reducing the dosage of your medications
  • Stop using tobacco products
  • Evaluate upper respiratory tract for problems that may predispose to mouth breathing
  • Have full diagnostic assessment by physicians for other systemic diseases that may contribute to dry mouth
Note: Dry mouth and Burning Mouth Syndrome may have some similarities in symptoms, but the causes and treatment of dry mouth are different from Burning Mouth Syndrome.