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- Medlineplus: Sjogren Syndrome
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: NINDS Herpes Zoster Oticus Information Page
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Dry mouth can be an annoyance, but when it is a long-term problem, you need to seek medical attention. Your oral health and nutrition are at risk if you are experiencing a dry mouth, also referred to as "cotton mouth." Understanding why this condition occurs can assist you in determining how to treat it.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Tasting, chewing, swallowing and speaking are affected when your mouth is dry. Dry mouth is not considered a normal part of aging. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research lists signs of dry mouth to include a sticky, dry feeling in your mouth. You may experience a dry, cotton feeling on your tongue and in your throat. Cracked lips, mouth sores, mouth infections and a rough tongue can all be signs that you are experiencing a dry mouth.
- Tasting, chewing, swallowing and speaking are affected when your mouth is dry.
- The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research lists signs of dry mouth to include a sticky, dry feeling in your mouth.
A Dry, Pasty Mouth
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, more than 400 medications can reduce your body's production of saliva. Depression and anxiety medication can cause dry mouth. Over-the-counter and prescription pain medications may cause dry mouth as side effects. Allergy and cold medications can cause your mouth to feel sticky and dry. Your mouth also may feel like it has cotton in it if you are taking medication for hypertension, psychiatric disorders, asthma, incontinence, nausea, diarrhea, acne or cancer.
- According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, more than 400 medications can reduce your body's production of saliva.
- Allergy and cold medications can cause your mouth to feel sticky and dry.
Different diseases are associated with dry, cotton mouth. Other symptoms may include hearing loss, a lack of balance and ringing in the ears. Dry mouth, loss of taste and dry eyes may also occur. The glands that produce tears and saliva are destroyed with an autoimmune disorder called Sjogren syndrome 1. This disorder can cause:
- difficult swallowing
- loss of taste
- speech difficulty
- thick saliva
- mouth sores
- Different diseases are associated with dry, cotton mouth.
Role of Saliva
Sudden Dry Mouth
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research warns that when saliva production is deficient, problems through the body can occur. Saliva controls the amount of bacteria and fungus in your mouth, and infection can occur when you have too little. Food digestion is dependent on saliva as are the ability to chew and swallow. Tooth decay and mouth infections can result when you have insufficient saliva.
- The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research warns that when saliva production is deficient, problems through the body can occur.
- Saliva controls the amount of bacteria and fungus in your mouth, and infection can occur when you have too little.
Treatment for dry mouth depends on what is causing the condition. If your physician determines that your dry mouth is due to medication, she may explore alternative therapy options. There are medications that may help you if your salivary glands are working insufficiently. Using artificial saliva and sipping sugarless drinks often can assist in keeping your mouth moist. Avoid caffeinated drinks, alcoholic beverages and tobacco products because these products can dry out your mouth. Sip water during meals to make chewing and swallowing easier.
- Treatment for dry mouth depends on what is causing the condition.
- Using artificial saliva and sipping sugarless drinks often can assist in keeping your mouth moist.
A Dry, Pasty Mouth
Sudden Dry Mouth
Dryness in the Back of the Throat
What Causes Extreme Dry Mouth Where Teeth Stick to Lips?
Natural Foods for Dry Mouth
What Are the Causes of Tongue Fungus?
Candida & Vitamin B-12
Vitamin C & Thrush
Itchiness Behind the Ears
How to Get Rid of a Scabby Nose
- Medlineplus: Sjogren Syndrome
- American Dental Association (ADA). Xerostomia (Dry Mouth). Department of Scientific Information, ADA Science Institute. Updated July 9, 2019.
- Bartels C. Xerostomia. The Oral Cancer Foundation. Updated October 15, 2018
- Barnhart MK, Robinson RA, Simms VA, et al. Treatment toxicities and their impact on oral intake following non-surgical management for head and neck cancer: a 3-year longitudinal study. Support Care Cancer. 2018;26(7):2341-2351. doi:10.1007/s00520-018-4076-6
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Candida Infections Of The Mouth, Throat, And Esophagus | Fungal Diseases | CDC. National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID), Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases (DFWED). Updated November 13, 2019.
- V Sankar, N Rhodus, & the AAOM Web Writing Group. Xerostomia. The American Academy of Oral Medicine. Updated October 15, 2015.
- Rusthen S, Kristoffersen AK, Young A, Galtung HK, Petrovski BÉ, Palm Ø et al. Dysbiotic salivary microbiota in dry mouth and primary Sjögren's syndrome patients. PLoS One. 2019 Jun 18;14(6):e0218319. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0218319.
- V Sankar, N Rhodus & the AAOM Web Writing Group. Dry Mouth. The American Academy of Oral Medicine. Updated October 15, 2015.
- American Dental Association. Dry Mouth. Mouth Healthy. Updated January 2019.
- Men K, Geng H, Zhong H, Fan Y, Lin A, Xiao Y. A deep learning model for predicting xerostomia due to radiotherapy for head-and-neck squamous cell carcinoma in the RTOG 0522 clinical trial. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2019 Jun 12. pii: S0360-3016(19)30834-X. doi:10.1016/j.ijrobp.2019.06.009.
- National Institutes of Health. Dry Mouth. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Updated January 2019.
Kerry Williams has been working as a freelance writer since 1999. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including "Parenting Toddlers with Special Needs," "Christian Parenting Handbook" and online at Hard2Config. Williams holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Ball State University and an associate degree in surgical technology from National College.