Dry Mouth (Xerostomia) – Common Causes, Signs & Symptoms

Posted on Posted in General Oral Health

Dry Mouth Syndrome (also known as Xerostomia) is subjective sensation of dryness in the oral cavity caused by the lack of saliva production in the mouth. Dry Mouth could be associated with changes in the chemical composition of saliva and/or reduction in salivary production/flow.

What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)?

Reduction in salivary flow is associated with various common signs and symptoms. Some of the common signs and symptoms are discussed below:

  1. Frequent Thirst
  2. Dry, cracked and painful lips & angles of mouth
  3. Lipstick or food sticks to the teeth
  4. Soreness of oral cavity
  5. Oral mucositis (inflammation of mucous membranes lining of the mouth)
  6. Difficulty or discomfort in wearing dentures
  7. Tongue shows fissures and redness
  8. Lips stick together
  9. Tongue sticks to the palate
  10. Difficulty in swallowing food (Dysphagia)
  11. Saliva becomes viscous or thick
  12. Burning and/or tingling sensation in the oral cavity
  13. Bad Breath (Halitosis)
  14. Changes in taste and smell sensation
  15. Oral candidiasis (Infection of oral mucosa with Candida species)
  16. Erosion of teeth due to the loss of salivary buffering activity
  17. Multiple teeth decay (dental caries)
  18. Infection of salivary glands (Sialadenitis)

What Are The Common Causes Of Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)?

Some of the common causes of dry mouth are discussed below:

  1. Aging
  2. Dehydration (Inadequate intake of fluids)
  3. Tobacco smoking or chewing habits
  4. Prolonged physical exercises
  5. Medications
    • Intake of medications such as hypertensive drug, anti-histamines and anti-depressants cause dry mouth symptoms.
  6. Radiotherapy & chemotherapy
    • Cancer treatments could damage the salivary glands, reduce saliva flow and alter the saliva composition. These result in dry mouth symptoms in the patients.
  7. Medical conditions, illness or disorders such as depression, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, anxiety, diabetes mellitus and etc.
  8. Habits such as snoring and sleeping with open mouth

If you are in doubt, always consult your dentist for proper diagnosis, management and treatment.

Article written by,

Dr. Wong Kee Cheong (Tommy)
Dental Surgeon