Do You Have Dry Mouth?
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Saliva is crucial for digesting food, controlling bacteria, protecting teeth from decay, and chewing and swallowing. If you aren't producing enough saliva, your mouth will probably feel sticky and dry. Chewing, swallowing, tasting, and speaking can become difficult. Other symptoms can include a burning feeling in your mouth, a dry throat, cracked lips, mouth sores, an infection in the mouth, and a dry, rough tongue. Left untreated, dry mouth can result in tooth decay and other oral infections. These are the four common causes of dry mouth:
- Medications: More than 400 medicines, including those prescribed for high blood pressure and depression, can cause the salivary glands to make less saliva.
- Disease: HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and Parkinson's disease can all cause dry mouth.
- Cancer therapy: Radiation can damage the salivary glands. Chemotherapy drugs can make saliva thicker, causing the mouth to feel dry.
- Nerve damage: Injury to the head or neck can damage the nerves that signal salivary glands to make saliva.
If you think you have dry mouth, see your dentist or physician. He or she may recommend switching from an offending medication, or prescribe a drug that improves saliva flow. Artificial saliva can also be used to keep your mouth wet.
Video: Get the Facts and Treat Chronic Dry Mouth
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