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HEALTH ENCYCLOPEDIA

Diseases & Conditions A - Z
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Dry Mouth

Dry mouth—known medically as xerostomia—is a condition that occurs when saliva glands in the mouth don’t work properly, causing a parched feeling in the mouth. Other symptoms include a rough tongue, mouth sores, and cracked lips.

Saliva is a necessary part of the digestion process, as well as a major defense mechanism that your body needs to maintain good dental health. Saliva protects the mouth against gum disease and tooth decay.  While not a serious medical condition, dry mouth can be a sign of a larger medical problem.

Causes of Dry Mouth

  • dehydration
  • pain relievers
  • stress
  • appetite suppressants
  • autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis or Sjögren's syndrome
  • botulism
  • chemotherapy
  • radiation therapy of the head and neck
  • blood pressure medication
  • antidepressants
  • urinary incontinence medications
  • tranquillizers
  • marijuana

Treatments for Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is usually a temporary and treatable condition. In most cases, it can be treated by doing on or more of the following:

  • sipping water often
  • sucking on ice cubes or sugarless candy
  • chewing sugarless gum
  • avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco
  • avoiding salty or spicy foods
  • limiting sugar intake
  • using a humidifier in your bedroom overnight
  • taking over-the-counter saliva substitutes

Content licensed from:

Written by: the Healthline Editorial Team
Published on: Sep 07, 2010

This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your health care provider. Please consult a health care professional with any health concerns you may have.
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