20 signs you have a dry mouth

What is ‘Xerostomia’ or dry mouth?

Xerostomia, also known as dry mouth, is dryness in the mouth. You can have dry mouth because a change in the composition of saliva or reduced salivary flow, or have no identifiable cause. This symptom is very common and is often seen as a side effect of many types of medication. Dry mouth is more common in

  • Older people (mostly because this group tends to take several medications)
  • Mouth breathing (people who breathe through their mouths)
  • Dehydration
  • Radiotherapy involving the salivary glands
  • Chemotherapy and several diseases can cause hyposalivation( reduced saliva flow ) or a change in saliva consistency and hence a complaint of xerostomia.
  • Sometimes there is no identifiable cause, and there may be a psychogenic reason for the complaint.

What are the effects of dry mouth?

The effects of xerostomia on the mouth and teeth are

  • Dental caries
  • Acid erosion
  • Oral candidiasis or thrush
  • Infection of the salivary gland
  • Altered taste sensation and  altered sense of smell 
  • Halitosis or bad breath
  • A burning or tingling sensation in the mouth 
  • Saliva that appears thick or ropey.
  • Mouth that appears dry.
  • Difficulty swallowing and chewing, especially when eating dry foods 
  • The tongue may stick to the palate,causing a clicking noise during speech, or the lips may stick together.
  • Gloves or a dental mirror may stick to the tissues.
  • Fissured tongue and reddish appearance of the tongue.
  • Saliva cannot be “milked” (expressed) from the salivary duct.
  • Difficulty wearing dentures, e.g., when swallowing or speaking. There may be generalized soreness and ulceration of the areas covered by the denture.
  • Mouth soreness .
  • Lipstick or food may stick to the teeth.
  • A need to sip drinks frequently while talking or eating.
  • Dry, sore, and cracked lips and angles of mouth.
  • Thirst.

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