Also called “xerostomia,” dry mouth is caused by improperly functioning salivary glands. This is often caused by disease, certain medications, or cancer treatment. Dry mouth can make it hard to eat, swallow, taste and speak. You can mitigate dry mouth by drinking lots of water and avoiding sweets, tobacco, alcohol and caffeine. We also may be able to prescribe medications to fight severe dry mouth.
Some medical treatments such as radiation therapy can actually permanently damage the salivary glands. More than four-hundred kinds of medications list dry mouth as a side effect. The more common drugs include decongestants, diuretics, anti-hypertensives, anti-depressants, and antihistamines.
Burning sensation of the tongue
Difficulty eating, especially dry foods
Difficulty wearing dentures
Dry, cracked lips and corners of the mouth
To mitigate the effects of dry mouth, try these simple steps
Frequently sip water
Keep water at bedside at night
Chew sugarless gum
Avoid tobacco, alcohol and foods high in sugar
Use a saliva substitute, which is a commercial product that “wets” the mouth like saliva does
Establish a good plaque control program – since heavy plaque accumulations occur with oral dryness
Use fluoride – toothpaste, rinse, or gel