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Dry mouth, also known by the clinical name xerostomia, takes place when your body does not make enough saliva.  Saliva is important to our health because it not only cleanses our mouth, it helps us digest food while preventing infections that can be caused by bacteria and fungi in our mouths.  When dry mouth persists for long periods, in can result in gum disease, tooth decay and mouth infections such as thrush.

As the name implies, dry mouth is characterized by frequent thirst, bad breath, a dry, raw and red tongue, a burning or tingling sensation in the mouth and on the tongue, and problems chewing and swallowing food.

There are several causes of dry mouth.  Among the most common are:

It is a side effect of medications you are taking.  Many drugs used to treat depression, anxiety, pain, hypertension, asthma, allergies and several other conditions contain antihistamines and decongestants.  By their very nature, these active ingredients are doing their job effectively when they dry up excess fluids.

Dry mouth is a side effect of some diseases.  People with HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, cystic fibrosis, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and anemia often experience dry mouth.

Actual medical treatments may damage your glands.  On occasion, procedures like chemotherapy will damage the saliva
glands in the head and neck, reducing the amount of saliva that can be produced.  Damage can also take place in localized nerves, resulting in reduced saliva output.

Those who experience dry mouth do have remedies available to them.  Doctors can prescribe Salagen which is a medication that boosts saliva production.  Sometimes an oral rinse may also be prescribed that will increase moisture in the mouth.

Other options include making sure you drink plenty of water, using a vaporizer when you sleep at night, breathing through your nose as much as possible and chewing gum or sucking on candy to boost saliva production.

Douglas Family Dentistryserves families in Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, Phoenix, Paradise Valley, Glendale and surrounding Arizona communities.