When your mouth is so dry that your teeth stick to your lips, it can be the symptom of a serious medical condition 3. Having a dry mouth can lead to greater tooth decay, as your body uses saliva to break down food particles that cling to teeth 3. You may also experience problems in tasting food, swallowing and even speaking. Talk to your doctor about your dry mouth so he can test for medical problems or drug side effects that could be causing the problem 3.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Drug Side Effects
MayoClinic.com notes that hundreds of prescription drugs currently list "dry mouth" as a side effect 13. If your mouth is dry and your teeth are sticking to your lips, it may be necessary to talk to your doctor about switching medications or adjusting your dosage so the side effects aren't disrupting your life and everyday activities 3. Blood pressure medication, antihistamines, decongestants and muscle relaxants are all culprits for dry mouth 3.
Sudden Dry Mouth
Certain medical conditions and diseases can cause dry mouth 3. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research notes that diabetic conditions, HIV/AIDS and Sjögren's syndrome can all lead to dry mouth 23. Other medical conditions that cause dry mouth include depression, stroke and Parkinson's disease 3. If your dry mouth is sudden, it's important to talk to your doctor so she can run tests and find the underlying cause 3.
When you've sustained an injury so great that it's affected your nervous system, you may experience dry mouth 3. Nerve damage can sometimes lead to the salivary glands not receiving the proper signals to create more saliva, according to dental hygiene product manufacturer Colgate.
Chemotherapy and Radiation
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Common therapies for cancer patients can lead to dry mouth 3. Radiation can damage salivary glands if they are exposed to the treatment. Cancer patients may find that their saliva feels thicker after chemotherapy treatments, making their moths feel dry. Chemotherapy can also alter the amount of saliva your salivary glands produces. Fortunately, saliva production usually goes back to normal following treatment, so long as the glands aren't damaged.
- Common therapies for cancer patients can lead to dry mouth 3.
- Fortunately, saliva production usually goes back to normal following treatment, so long as the glands aren't damaged.
If you chew or smoke tobacco, you may notice dry mouth after smoking or chewing 3. Tobacco use in all of its forms can wreak havoc on the mouth, leaving mouth ulcers and decreased saliva production. The only way to stop the symptoms is to stop smoking. Unfortunately, dry mouth can also be a symptom of nicotine withdrawal, says the University of Minnesota Division of Periodontology 34.
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- MayoClinic.com: Dry Mouth
- National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research: Dry Mouth
- Colgate: Dry Mouth
- University of Minnesota: Nicotine Addiction
- 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.
Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.