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What is Dry Mouth Syndrome?

dry mouth syndrome


Dry mouth occurs when salivary glands do not produce enough saliva.  This syndrome is also known as xerostomia.

Having this syndrome is a normal sign of dehydration. In some cases, it could also be brought about by nervousness and anxiety.


Persistent dry mouth, on the other hand, can be a sign of some underlying health problems or a side effect of medications. It could be a nuisance for others, but for some people, it affects their teeth and gums, overall health and even their quality of life. If the condition exists for longer than usual, it is advisable to seek medical advice from professionals.


Different causes can be attributed to lesser saliva production leading to dry mouth syndrome. The following are detailed discussions of its causes.

Sjogren’s Syndrome

When a person experiences the Sjogren’s Syndrome, it adversely affects how the salivary glands produce enough saliva for the mouth. This autoimmune disease mainly influences the eyes and the salivary glands by having the immune system cells attack these specific parts of the body.

Salivary Duct Obstructions

There are instances when in stimulating saliva, tiny stones made from saliva minerals are created. When these stones accumulate, they may lodge inside the salivary glands thereby restricting saliva flow.


There are certain diseases that cause dry mouth syndrome. Among these diseases are the following listed below:
ii. Alzheimer’s Disease
iii. Amyloidosis
iv. Cerebral Palsy
v. Diabetes
vi. Lupus
vii. Parkinson’s Disease
viii. Primary Biliary Cirrhosis
ix. Stroke

Nerve problems

The facial nerves mainly control the functions of salivary glands. Any injury or even surgical damage to these facial nerves in the head could greatly reduce saliva production.

Cancer Treatments

The nature of saliva and the amount produced by the salivary glands are affected by chemotherapy drugs. In some cases, this is only temporary and normal saliva flow will once again return as soon as the chemotherapy treatment is finished.

There could also be a marked decrease in the production of saliva when radiation treatments targeting the head and neck damage the salivary glands. Depending on the particular area treated as well as the dose of radiation, this decreased saliva production can be temporary or even permanent.


Saliva production can also be restricted when there is a viral or bacterial infection of the salivary glands. This causes inflammation resulting in the restriction of saliva production. Another example is having a yeast infection (commonly known as ‘thrush’) in the mouth which causes dry mouth.

Drugs and Medications

There are about hundreds of medications, to include many over-the-counter drugs, that can produce the side effect of having a dry mouth. Some of these are drugs used to treat the following:
– allergies
– anxiety
– depression
– high blood pressure

Pain medications, decongestants, sedatives, analgesics and muscle relaxants also inhibit the saliva production in the body that could result in experiencing dryness of the mouth.


Having a poor drinking habit, such as drinking too little fluid in a day, may lead to the production of thick saliva and eventually, a dry mouth.

Other Causes

Other causes of this syndrome include the use of recreational drugs such as marijuana as well as methamphetamine which leads to the “meth mouth”. Habitual snoring, the tendency to breath through the mouth, and hormone changes from menopause or pregnancy are also some of its causes.


Symptoms of dry mouth syndrome include any or all of  the following:

  • a burning and prickly sensation in the mouth area
  • bad breath
  • changes in your sense of taste
  • difficulty or even problem swallowing, speaking or chewing
  • dry or rough tongue, dry or sore throat and hoarseness
  • dryness and a feeling of stickiness in the mouth area
  • dry and cracked lips
  • increased tendency of tooth decay
  • increased occurrence of oral thrush infections
  • mouth ulcers
  • problems wearing dentures
  • saliva that feels stringy or thick
  • the tongue tends to stick against the roof of the mouth

dry mouth syndrome

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Risks and Complications

Not having enough saliva produced in your mouth increases the production of plaque as well as the risk of having gingivitis or gum disease. This can lead to other complications such as tooth decay and mouth infections like thrush.

It can also lead to cracked lips and sores or split skin at the corners of the mouth. Having problems with chewing and swallowing can likewise lead to overall poor nutrition, so it is advisable to pay attention to your dental health.

Available Treatments

Available treatments for dry mouth will largely depend on the cause. Oral care professionals may choose any of these methods:

  1. Change current medications by adjusting the dosage or even switching to another medication.
  2. Use of saliva substitutes as recommended by the oral health care specialist. This must be used strictly as instructed.
  3. Use of moisturizing products that may help treat dry mouth. These products usually contain a variety of agents like lubricants and xylitol that will address the condition. It could include gum and topical gels, mouthwash and toothpaste.

For recommendations, you may consult your dental health expert.

  1. Use of antibiotics as well as antifungal drugs to treat an infection of the mouth. The use of which is upon the advice of your dentist.
  2. In extreme cases, surgery may be recommended to address this condition. These are instances when there are blockages in the salivary glands that can only be treated through surgery.
  3. Other treatments may be required if underlying conditions such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease or Sjorgen’s syndrome are causing dry mouth. Cases such as these need the most appropriate medical treatment to address the root cause of the syndrome.


Dry mouth syndrome is painful and has a lot of complications when left untreated. If you experience these symptoms, book an appointment with us now to avoid complications.