Dry mouth affects 30% of adults, which is usually caused by a problem with salivary glands function, a potential disease, or as a result of drug therapy. A dry mouth should not keep you from smiling, but it can be a serious chronic problem. Without sufficient saliva, eating, swallowing, and even talking can be difficult; and without enough protective saliva, the teeth become prone to decay. We all need saliva to moisten and cleanse our mouths and digest food. Saliva also prevents infection by controlling bacteria and fungi in the mouth. When we don’t produce enough saliva, our mouth gets dry and uncomfortable.If dry mouth is a persistent problem, it’s important to take action and try to prevent it or to correct it. Eating foods with strong flavors and chewing foods that are high in fiber such as celery and carrots can help. Be sure to drink lots of water and avoid alcohol and tobacco, because they tend to dry out he mouth. Sugar-free gum or oral lubricants can also combat the effects of dry mouth. Common symptoms of dry mouth include:
- A sticky, dry feeling in the mouth
- Sores in the mouth; sores or split skin at the corners of the mouth; cracked lips
- A dry feeling in the throat
- A burning or tingling sensation in the mouth and especially on the tongue
- Problems speaking or difficulty tasting, chewing, and swallowing
- Hoarseness, dry nasal passages, sore throat
Why is dry mouth a problem?
Besides causing the aggravating symptoms mentioned above, dry mouth also increases a person’s risk of gingivitis (gum disease), tooth decay, and mouth infections, such as thrush. Dry mouth can also make it difficult to wear dentures.