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What is Dry Mouth?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Dry mouth is an unpleasant condition that happens for many reasons. People may notice the symptoms of this condition in different ways. The condition is not just unpleasant but can pose some risks to oral health. It’s thus important to employ one or more treatment options to address it.

The principle symptoms of dry mouth include bad breath, and a feeling that the tongue is “furry,” or sticky. People might get mouth sores, the tongue can get red and irritated, and even the throat can feel dry, which may affect ability to swallow or causes hoarseness. Some people feel thirsty, and others get sore throats or cracked lips. Most people will experience these symptoms at least once in a while, but when symptoms persist, the condition is called dry mouth.

A number of things can cause this conition. Very commonly medications that people take regularly result in it. This includes many drugs (antidepressants, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, sedatives) used to treat psychiatric conditions. Allergy medicines may cause uncomfortable dryness, as can medications used to treat asthma, chronic congestion, high blood pressure, and diarrhea.

Dry mouth causes aren’t limited to medications. Certain illnesses like Sjogren’s syndrome, HIV, diabetes, and anemia can cause it too. People who have damage to the salivary glands due to chemotherapy or injury to the head or neck could suffer from this condition. Moreover, things like smoking or chronic drinking may cause dryer mouth or worsen the condition, and people may also get temporary dry mouth if they are severely dehydrated.

There are a couple of things people ought to do if they have chronic dry mouth that can’t be cured by eliminating the cause. They need to first see a dentist. Good oral health is absolutely important because dry mouth is associated with higher risk of gum disease and tooth decay. Dentists may want to schedule cleanings more often, and they may also recommend people use a small plastic device called a tongue scraper, when they brush their teeth.

Teeth brushing with fluoridated toothpaste is recommended, and dentists might suggest people use a finishing mouth rinse too. Flossing remains important. This will help keep down plaque build up.

Other things can be done to relieve the condition. People might want to invest in an over the counter product like a rinse or spray that helps produce more saliva. There are number of these, and a dentist may suggest his/her favorites. Drinking water is very important too, since this constantly lubricates the mouth. Some find benefit from sucking on sugarless candies, which will help produce saliva.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By desertdunes — On Feb 05, 2010

Ugh I get the sore throat. You'd think that drinking a full glass of water would moisten things back up, but sometimes I have to chug 2 or 3 glasses before the sore throat goes away.

Can anyone tell me if the rinse/spray's work better than drinking water? I kind of doubt it but you never know.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia...
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