Dry Mouth (cont.)

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What are the signs and symptoms of dry mouth?

People complaining of dry mouth may have trouble speaking, eating, tasting food, and swallowing. Frequently, a dry mouth may be most manifest at night during sleeping, especially in mouth-breathers. The dryness may cause chapped or cracked lips, dry eyes, dry throat, pale gums, headaches, dizziness, bad breath or a persistent cough. Those affected may also complain of sores in their mouth, or a white tongue indicative of a fungal infection like yeast (candidiasis). Fungal infections occurring in an individual with dry mouth may be associated with another underlying disease or disorder such as Addison's disease, HIV, or diabetes. A burning tongue or throat, periodontitis, ulcers, sores, and inflamed soft tissue are also all effects of oral dryness. Without a sufficient quantity of saliva to wash food particles off teeth, neutralize acids in the mouth, and battle the bacteria population, a person frequently develops multiple cavities -- especially around the gum line.

How do health-care professionals diagnose dry mouth?

When dry mouth is noticed, the dentist can be helpful to obtain a proper diagnosis. The diagnosis will help in developing a plan for management and treatment. The dentist will inspect the main salivary glands and ducts to check for blockages and may measure both stimulated and unstimulated salivary flow. The lips, tongue, and oral tissues will all be inspected for dryness. Sometimes a patient will still complain of dry mouth even if salivary flow is adequate. Since the symptoms of dry mouth vary greatly from individual to individual, treatments vary. Sometimes treatments are given for prolonged, chronic complaint of dry mouth, even without clinical signs of changes within the mouth.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/1/2014

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