Why does your mouth dry up all the time

Dry mouth affects 20-25 per cent of adults, in particular women. Lisa Antao discovers more about this condition and how to treat it.

Do you often experience a sticky, dry feeling in your mouth and throat? Or hoarseness, dry nasal passages and sore throat? Or sometimes a slightly burning or tingling sensation in the mouth, especially the tongue? Or perhaps, thirst frequently and sport a dry, red tongue? If yes, then chances are that you probably suffer from a condition called dry mouth. Read on to find out more about this.

What is it?
Dry mouth is medically known as Xerostomia. It can be defined as a condition of not having enough saliva in the mouth to keep it moist, thereby causing a dry mouth. It is not a disease in itself but rather a symptom of a larger problem. Oral surgeon Dr Kinjal Shah says that saliva secretion does more than just moisten the mouth and adds, "It plays a significant role in speech, taste, in chewing, in swallowing and digestion, in nutrition and in the protection of the teeth, mouth, lips and esophagus."

Dry mouth is not an uncommon phenomenon. Cosmetic dentist Dr Karishma Jaradi says that it affects 20-25 per cent of adults and in particular women. Further as a person ages the saliva flow decreases. It has been found that 20 per cent of youngsters aged 20 are affected by dry mouth whereas 30-40 per cent of adults in the age group of 60-80 complain of dry mouth. "Women who are going through menopause may suffer from a dry mouth. And those who have had their menopause and are taking Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) may also find they suffer from dry mouth," she adds.

Dry mouth in children may be due to dehydration from fever, diarrhoea, vomiting or excessive sweating from exercising. When your child has a fever, more water evaporates from the body as the temperature of the body increases. If your child cannot replace the lost fluids he/she may become dehydrated.

When there is an insufficient amount of saliva in the mouth, there is increased risk of tooth and gum decay. Dry mouth can also lead to halitosis or bad breadth. Dr Shah says, "People face problem while speaking but do not have any difficulty while eating. Due to dry mouth one can also have nerve damage, dehydration, fever, excessive sweating, vomiting, diarrhoea, blood loss, and burns can cause dry mouth."

Treatment for dry mouth depends on the severity, it can also take a week to cure or some few days to treat and if it's on the very bad stage then might also take a month to cure dry mouth. It can also relapse if precautions are not taken.

A diet rich in raw, dark green leafy vegetables provides an abundant supply of chlorophyll that is similar in molecular terms to oxygen, in turn, yielding a disinfecting effect. Dr Karishma says, "Eliminating products containing yeast, molds, and fungi as well as reducing sweets that lower immunity and feed yeast/fungus is important -- especially regarding these conditions. If followed, these suggestions greatly enhance your prospects of returning to a balanced state of health." Drinking plenty of water also helps to protect from these conditions.

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