Dry mouth syndrome, known officially as xerostomia, is a result of decreased saliva in the mouth and can be a chronic or temporary problem. Most people experience some degree of dry mouth at some point in their lives, though this condition is most commonly found in adults.
Symptoms of dry mouth can include a dry feeling in the mouth or throat, sore throat, bad breath, cracked or split lips, and an altered sense of taste. If these or other dry mouth symptoms are regularly experienced, it is wise to consult a dentist for an examination, as dry mouth or decreased saliva production can lead to dental infections, increased plaque, and dental cavities.
There are a number of medical and environmental factors that can cause dry mouth. Certain medications, such as antihistamines, decongestants, pain killers, diuretics, and some antidepressants all list dry mouth or xerostomia as a possible side effect. Cancer therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation also affect the salivary glands and can lead to dry mouth. Medical conditions including diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, stroke, and autoimmune diseases can also cause dry mouth.
Treatments for dry mouth may be as simple as sucking on sugar-free candy or chewing sugar-free gum. Other treatments designed to restore moisture to the mouth include artificial saliva, special oral rinses, oral moisturizer sprays, and prescription medications designed to increase saliva production. Dental professionals also suggests that people who suffer from chronic dry mouth limit tobacco consumption, drink plenty of water, and avoid carbonated or caffeinated beverages and alcohol.