Dry mouth or xerostomia is a condition in which the salivary glands in mouth don't make enough saliva to keep the mouth wet. It often occurs due to the side effect of certain medications or aging process or as a result of certain therapies that delivered in cancer treatments.
In some cases, dry mouth may be caused by a condition that directly affects your salivary glands.
Saliva helps prevent tooth decay by neutralizing acids produced by bacteria in the mouth, slowing bacterial growth and, cleaning away food particles. Saliva also helps mineralization of teeth.
Saliva also improves the ability to taste and helps in chewing and swallowing the food. Saliva contains certain enzymes that help in digestion.
When saliva production is insufficient, all of these functions are affected.
It's normal to have a dry mouth occasionally if you’re dehydrated or in certain situations such as when you are feeling nervous. But regularly having a dry mouth can be a sign of a problem that requires diagnosis and treatment.
You should meet your dentist if you have a dry mouth more often so that he or she can find its cause.
Read about what can cause a dry mouth.
Dry mouth affects about 10% of all people and is more prevalent in women than men. Disorders of saliva production generally affect old people and those who take prescription and nonprescription medications frequently.
There is really no way to prevent dry mouth. You can only prevent the side effects of dry mouth. It is important to detect, diagnose, and treat xerostomia as early as possible as it can cause major problems that can have a devastating effect on your dental and overall health.
However, there are a number of ways you can minimize the effects of dry mouth, such as the following.
You may notice these symptoms if you are not producing enough saliva: