Dry mouth is a condition that usually results from decreased production of saliva. At times, xerostomia can make it difficult to speak and may lead to malnutrition. Extreme dry mouth and salivary gland dysfunction can produce significant and permanent mouth and throat disorders and can impair a person's quality of life. Dry mouth is also called xerostomia. Dry mouth affects about 10% of all people and is more prevalent in women than men. Disorders of saliva production affect elderly people and those who are taking prescription and nonprescription medications most frequently.
Dry mouth is a common problem. It can range from being merely a nuisance to something that has a major impact on your general health and the health of your teeth, as well as your appetite and enjoyment of food.
To determine if you have dry mouth, your doctor or dentist likely will examine your mouth and review your medical history and all medications you're taking, including over-the-counter medications. Sometimes, you may need blood tests, imaging scans of your salivary glands or tests that measure how much saliva you produce to identify the cause of your dry mouth. If your doctor suspects your dry mouth is caused by Sjogren's syndrome, a small sample of cells (biopsy) taken from salivary glands in your lip may be sent for testing.
The prevalence of dry mouth symptoms increased with increasing age, was greater in women than men, and was greater in whites than blacks. The mean (SD) amount of saliva production was 2.38 (1.00) g/min; mean saliva production decreased with increasing age and was lower in women than men; no difference was noted by race. Persons with dry mouth symptom either often or all the time had significantly lower salivary production, even after adjustment for age and sex.