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Why is My Mouth So Dry?

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Updated July 26, 2010

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Question: Why is My Mouth So Dry?

Sticky, pasty, hard to swallow -- if this sounds like how your mouth feels, you may be suffering from a common dental condition.

Answer:

There are many reasons why your mouth is so dry, and all of those reasons generally end up leading to a diagnosis of xerostomia, which really is just the fancy medical term for a dry mouth. And considering you already know that you have a dry mouth, because you noticed the common signs and symptoms of xerostomia occurring, you are likely curious to know what may be causing your xerostomia.

Xerostomia is generally caused by:

  • Chronic mouth breathing

  • Medications used to treat conditions such as high blood pressure, depression, and Parkinson's disease. Many prescribed and over-the-counter list xerostomia as a side effect.

  • Medical treatments and procedures such as bone marrow transplants, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.

  • Diseases and health conditions such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS, Sjögren’s Syndrome, depression, Parkinson's disease, nerve damage, thyroid disease, and dehydration.

  • Tobacco use, including smokeless tobacco products.

  • Injury to nerves in the mouth due to trauma, which may cause a decrease in saliva production.

  • A decrease in the production of saliva due to the natural aging processes.

A visit to your dentist or physician will help you understand why you are suffering from a dry mouth, and in turn, offer you treatment options for xerostomia.

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