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Dry Mouth - What You Should Know


Updated May 28, 2014

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Part 1 of 4 - What Is Dry Mouth?
Teenage girl drinking water
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Dry mouth is a condition related to having insufficient saliva. The medical term for dry mouth is xerostomia. Everyone has a dry mouth occasionally, especially when nervous, upset, or under stress.

Dry mouth is not a normal part of aging. If you have a dry mouth all or most of the time, it can be uncomfortable and can lead to serious health problems. If you think you have dry mouth, see your dentist or doctor. There are things you can do to get relief.

Dry Mouth: More Than Uncomfortable

  • Dry mouth can be a sign of certain diseases or conditions, such as Sjogren's syndrome.
  • Dry mouth can cause difficulties in tasting, chewing, swallowing, and speaking.
  • Dry mouth can increase your chance of developing dental decay and other mouth infections.
  • Dry mouth can be caused by certain drugs or medical treatments.

Saliva does more than keep the mouth wet:

  • Saliva helps digest food.
  • It protects teeth from decay.
  • It prevents infection by controlling bacteria and fungi in the mouth.
  • It makes it possible for you to chew and swallow.

Symptoms of Dry Mouth

  • sticky, dry feeling in the mouth
  • trouble chewing, swallowing, tasting, or speaking
  • burning feeling in the mouth
  • dry feeling in the throat
  • cracked lips
  • dry, tough tongue
  • mouth sores
  • mouth infections

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