Up to 40 percent of the general population is estimated to experience xerostomia or dry mouth with aging. Dry mouth can be caused by conditions such as diabetes and autoimmune disease, prescription and non-prescription drugs and other medical problems such as allergy. Chewing tobacco, mouth breathing or using CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) for apnea also causes oral dryness. Night time oral dryness can be associated with burning or tingling; sore throat; tongue, gum, and denture ridge soreness; taste dysfunction; speech problems; a sticky feeling in the mouth; and difficulty swallowing. Oral dryness has also been associated with an increased incidence of oral ulceration, infection (candidiasis), tooth decay, periodontal disease, and lip cracking. Some people also experience halitosis, insomnia, irritability, depression, and speech and eating disorders in association with dry mouth. The condition is not inconsequential and impacts quality of life.
Several medications can be prescribed for patients with severe dry mouth caused by autoimmune disease but these can be associated with adverse effects. Pilocarpine, for example, can cause sweating, dizziness, urinary frequency, and in some cases hypersensitivity. In most people with dry mouth, however, the condition is mild to moderate and not associated with a significant underlying medical problem so there is no need for prescription medication.
Last date updated on June, 2014