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- What is dry mouth?
- How common is dry mouth?
- What are the benefits of saliva?
- What causes dry mouth?
- What are the signs and symptoms of dry mouth?
- How do health care professionals diagnose dry mouth?
- What is the treatment for dry mouth?
- Is it possible to prevent dry mouth?
- What is the prognosis of dry mouth?
Quick GuideOral Health: Dry Mouth Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
What are the signs and symptoms of dry mouth?
People complaining of dry mouth may exhibit some or all of the following symptoms:
- Dry feeling in mouth
- Dry feeling in throat, sore throat
- Frequent thirst
- Difficulty speaking, chewing, and swallowing (dysphagia)
- Increased need to drink liquids in order to swallow
- Diminished or altered sense of taste
- Chapped or cracked lips
- Dry eyes
- Pale gums
- Headaches, dizziness
- Bad breath
- Persistent cough
- Dry nasal passages
- Dry corners of mouth
- Mouth sores, ulcers
- Difficulty wearing dentures
- White tongue indicative of a fungal infection like yeast (candidiasis)
- Burning or tingling sensation in mouth, tongue, or throat
- Red, bleeding gums, gingivitis, and periodontitis
- Tooth decay—especially around the gum line or on the root surfaces
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. The most common sign of fungal infection of the mouth is burning tongue or white or dark plaque on the tongue or soft tissues of the mouth. Frequently, a dry mouth may manifest mostly at night during sleeping, especially in mouth-breathers
How do health care professionals diagnose dry mouth?
When dry mouth is observed, the dentist can be helpful in determining the cause of dry mouth and obtaining 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. The dentist can be an important resource for specific information to manage dry mouth.