Dry Mouth – Causes and effects

Dry mouth

Sometimes, you may feel extremely thirst. Your tongue may stick on to the palate irrespective of hydrating well. Predominantly, less amount of salivary secretion causes dry mouth. In other words, it is a clinical manifestation of salivary gland dysfunction. Nonetheless, there are various factors that cause dry mouth.

Various causes for dry mouth :


Radiation therapy is a party of oral cancer treatment. Radiation is passed to the head and neck region. However, this could affect the salivary gland cells which are certainly a dose-dependent. When salivary glands cells are damaged, it causes dry mouth.

Medicine/ drug-induced:

No medicines are out of side-effects. Some level of mild to moderate disturbances does occur. For instance, certain drugs that are taken for vomiting, allergy, blood pressure, muscle spasm and convulsions can cause decreased salivary flow. It is basically because of the fact that these medicines also reduce the overall action of parasympathetic functions of the body.

Local factors:

Additionally, the common local factors like smoking, mouth breathing and decreased chewing can lead to xerostomia. Above all, the local factors are tested first to rule out the basic issues.

Developmental abnormality:

Some changes during fetal formation can cause developmental abnormalities. For instance, if it happens to the salivary glands, the possibility of xerostomia is high. Similarly, the same can also happen in conditions like tumour or autoimmune disorders.

Systemic alterations:

Nutritional deficiencies can also influence xerostomia. Quite common but alarming conditions like anaemia, vitamin A deficiency and hormonal imbalance can cause dry mouth.

Fluid loss associated with haemorrhage, sweating, diarrhoea, vomiting and dehydration, diseases like Diabetes, certain syndromes and graft versus host resistances can cause dry mouth.


Signs and symptoms of dry mouth:

The most common indications that you have xerostomia include,

Increased thirst and feel like wetting your mouth frequently

Increased uptake of fluids

Frequent use of means like chewing gums and sour candy

Difficulties in swallowing and eating dry foods

Speech difficulty

Burning and tingling sensation in the mouth

Frequent oral infection

Intolerance to the dental appliance

Abnormal taste in the mouth

Adherence of tongue to the soft palate

Painful salivary gland enlargement

Increased incidence of dental caries

Thick, foamy and ropey salivary consistency


Tips to manage dry mouth :

Try sweet and tart food and beverages like lemonade, they may help to produce more saliva

Chewing sugar-free candy and ice cubes might help to wet the mucosa

Use soft and liquid foods, which may be easier to swallow

Hydrate well and drink frequently

Avoid chewing vitamin c and acidic lozenges, dry, sticky and salty foods.

In conclusion, to some extend, self-remedies may hep to overcome xerostomia. However, when the condition is severe or beyond self-limiting, it is better to report to your physician and take proper medical management. Because of the fact that you may not even know the actual fact behind dryness, and unknowingly you may worsening the condition.



Textbook of oral medicine by Anil Govindrao Ghom, 2nd edition

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