Saliva is very important to oral health. It moistens and cleanses the mouth and helps with digestion. It also controls bacteria and fungi in the mouth. If we’re not producing enough saliva, our mouth will get dry, which is never comfortable.
Many medications cause dry mouth as a side effect; it can also be a side effect of certain diseases and infections such as diabetes, anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. Certain medical treatments, such as chemotherapy for cancer patients can also cause damage to salivary glands.
Other contributing factors are smoking or chewing tobacco, breathing with your mouth open, and conditions that cause dehydration such as vomiting and diarrhea.
- Frequent thirst
- Sores in the mouth
- Sticky and dry feeling in the mouth and/or throat
- Burning or tingling in the mouth/tongue
- Dry, red, and/or raw tongue
- Difficulty tasting, chewing, swallowing, and speaking
- Sore throat
- Bad breath
What to do:
If you suspect that you’re experiencing dry mouth due to medication that you are taking, talk to your doctor about adjusting the dosage or switching. There are also prescriptions that can combat this issue such as an oral rinse or medications that stimulate the production of saliva. Other things that help include:
- Sugar-free candy and gum
- Drinking a lot of water
- Room vaporizers to add moisture
- Using a fluoride rinse