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Other name: Dry mouth

Most people have a dry mouth periodically, such as when they are nervous, but having a dry mouth can be frustrating, uncomfortable and lead to more serious health problems. A dry mouth can affect a person’s dietary habits and nutrition and her speech, taste and ability to tolerate a dental appliance such as a retainer, mouth guard or bridge. Dry mouth also can increase the effort required to maintain good oral hygiene.

Xerostomia may be caused by certain types of medications, such as diuretics and antihistamines; cancer therapy; diseases such as Sjögren’s syndrome, diabetes and AIDS; nerve damage; and other factors such as stress and depression. Symptoms include:

  • A sticky, dry mouth
  • Trouble chewing, swallowing, tasting or speaking
  • Cracked lips
  • Mouth sores

Treatment of xerostomia will depend largely on the cause. If it is due to a medication, your physician may change the medication or dosage. If your salivary glands are not functioning properly, a medication may be prescribed to aid them in the production of saliva. Your physician may also recommend certain products to help keep the mouth moist. In most cases treatment will strive to reduce the severity of the symptoms since it may be difficult to eliminate the cause.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)