You probably know the feeling: You're about ready to speak, eat, or swallow when your mouth suddenly feels parched. Your words or your food get caught in your throat. What you're experiencing is called xerostomia – commonly called dry mouth.
Brought on by a decreased amount of saliva your salivary glands produce, dry mouth is typically a temporary condition. But xerostomia can be a chronic condition for some people. And that can lead to oral health issues. If you have constant dry mouth, learn the causes, signs, and oral health consequences of low saliva. Plus, learn how to counteract dry mouth and prevent serious dental complications.
Causes and Signs of Dry Mouth
If you deal with dry mouth constantly, its cause could be one or more of the multiple factors resulting in xerostomia. In some cases, your dry mouth should go away after you stop certain behaviors, activities, treatments, or medications. Or you can experience chronic dry mouth if there's damage to your salivary glands.
Dry mouth is a symptom of other health issues. If you have a constant dry mouth for more than a week, see your dentist or doctor to diagnose the problem's source.
Causes of dry mouth include:
- Dehydration (aka not drinking enough water)
- Stress or anxiety
- Numerous medications – check out your medications' side effects.
- Chemotherapy and radiation cancer treatments
- Autoimmune diseases, such as Sjögren's syndrome
- Neurological issues, such as strokes, Alzheimer's disease, or nerve damage to the head or neck
- Open-mouthed snoring and breathing
- Tobacco, alcohol, and recreational drugs
If you're at risk for dry mouth, you might notice symptoms beyond those we mentioned earlier. Additional signs of dry mouth can include thick and stringy saliva, throat or tongue problems, and a change in your sense of taste.