If you have an unusually dry mouth, a condition called xerostomia, you may experience constant sore throat, trouble speaking, a burning sensation, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness or dry nasal passages. It can range from being merely a nuisance to something that has a major impact on your general health and the health of your teeth.
Dry mouth results from an inadequate flow of saliva. It is not a disease, but a symptom of a medical disorder or a side effect of certain medications, such as antihistamines, decongestants, pain killers, diuretics and many others. It can also be caused by nerve damage, health conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome, or tobacco use. And without saliva, extensive tooth decay can occur.
Saliva is the mouth’s first defense against tooth decay, and maintains the health of the soft and hard tissues in the mouth. Saliva helps prevent tooth decay by neutralizing acids produced by bacteria, limiting bacterial growth and washing away food particles. Saliva also enhances your ability to taste and makes it easier to swallow.
If you’re not producing enough saliva, you may notice dryness, thick saliva, bad breath, difficulty speaking or swallowing, a changed sense of taste, and irritated gums. A dry mouth can even cause lipstick to stick to your teeth.
If you’ve noticed persistent dry mouth signs and symptoms, make an appointment with your family doctor or your dentist. We can recommend various methods to restore moisture, such as sugar free gums and candy, or artificial saliva and oral rinses.