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Dry Mouth or Xerostomia - Causes and Treatment

Written by
Dr. Honey Arora
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Published on Mar 11, 2017 and last reviewed on Sep 07, 2018   -  4 min read


Dry mouth which in medical terms is known as Xerostomia can cause serious discomfort to the individual suffering from it, so we will discuss about the causes and the simple remedies that can ease the symptoms of patients who suffer from dry mouth due to various causes.

Dry Mouth or Xerostomia - Causes and Treatment

Xerostomia is a medical term which refers to a subjective complaint of dry mouth, resulting from reduced saliva production. The term is derived from a Greek word, where xero means dry, and stoma means mouth.

Important Points:

This condition is more commonly seen in females. It can affect the life of the individual suffering from it and can cause considerable discomfort, which can cause severe anxiety and hamper the quality of life. It can affect about 15 to 20% population. It can be due to a single or multiple causes. It not only increases the urge to drink more water which never feels satisfied, but also makes the saliva thick, stringy, and mucous-like.

What is Saliva?

Saliva is a clear watery fluid that is produced 24 hours a day by the salivary glands. It contains many minerals, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. Saliva also contains enzymes that help in digestion. It is a buffer solution and helps in maintaining the mouth's pH.

Functions of Saliva:

Causes of Dry Mouth:

Many factors can cause dry mouth, which are as follows:

Symptoms of Dry Mouth:

  1. The mucous membranes inside the mouth can appear thinned out or atrophic, pale, and ulcerated or fissured.
  2. There can be a bad smell coming from the mouth or bad breath.
  3. Lips can appear dry and cracked. Cracks at the corners of the mouth are also known as angular cheilitis.
  4. The teeth can be seen sticking to the cheeks and inner lips.
  5. There can be ulcers in mouth, inflammation, and pain.
  6. The tongue can lose papillae which contain taste buds, causing loss of taste. The tongue can become red and inflamed leading to a sore tongue.
  7. In extreme cases or long-standing dry mouth, there can be constant burning sensation and numbness in the mouth, leading to a condition known as burning mouth syndrome.
  8. There can be deposits over teeth, with an increase in tooth decay and gum diseases.
  9. There can be lisping or difficult in speaking words.
  10. Painful chewing and swallowing.
  11. Increase in frequency of fungal infection in mouth and tongue causing oral thrush.
  12. Throat irritation and dryness.


Management of Dry Mouth:

  1. Management of dry mouth will depend on the cause.
  2. Many a time, treating the underlying cause can help in relieving the symptoms.
  3. If dry mouth is due to a side effect of any medication, then you should consult your physician, so that he can either reduce the dose of the medicine or change it to a drug that is less likely to cause dry mouth.
  4. Certain medicines can stimulate saliva production, for example, Pilocarpine.
  5. You can chew sugar-free chewing gums, and suck tart or sour candies, as they are helpful in stimulating saliva flow.
  6. Certain oral moisturizing gels that contain lubricating properties along with antibacterial and antifungal properties can be advised, for example, Oral base.
  7. Avoid regular alcohol containing mouthwash as they have a drying effect in the mouth. Specialized mouthwashes containing Methylcellulose like Biotene mouthwash should be used for gargling.
  8. Go for a regular dental checkup, so that oral hygiene can be meticulously maintained, get the cavities filled and oral prophylaxis can be done for preventing tooth and gum infections.
  9. Avoid smoking, chewing tobacco, sticky or sugary or spicy food.


Dry mouth can be managed with supportive or palliative treatment, so individuals suffering from dry mouth should not lose heart.

For further information on dry mouth consult a dentist online -->


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Last reviewed at:
07 Sep 2018  -  4 min read


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