Xerostomia is the term used for dry mouth or dry mouth syndrome. This condition is the sensation of a lack of saliva in the mouth.
Some of the symptoms of this condition include a sticky or dry sensation in the throat; problems chewing, swallowing, tasting or speaking; a burning sensation in the mouth; dry and cracked lips; a dry and rough tongue; and mouth sores or infections in the mouth.
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, dry mouth occurs when the glands that produce saliva do not work properly, leading to there not being enough saliva to keep it moist. Some of the reasons for this can include:
- Medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s or strokes, which can make it more difficult to feel that the mouth is moist.
- Side effects of some medicines. More than 400 medicines can cause the salivary glands to make less saliva. For example, medicines for high blood pressure and depression often cause dry mouth.
- Some diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and diabetes, can cause dry mouth.
- Radiation therapy. The salivary glands can be damaged if they are exposed to radiation during cancer treatment.
- Chemotherapy. Drugs used to treat cancer can make saliva thicker, causing the mouth to feel dry.
- Nerve damage. Injury to the head or neck can damage the nerves that tell salivary glands to make saliva.
In general, sipping water or sugarless drinks often and avoiding drinks that contain caffeine can help improve the flavor of foods and increase saliva production.