Imagine waking up multiple times a night feeling parched and like your tongue has swollen. This common condition is called dry mouth. Dry mouth syndrome is also known as xerostomia. It occurs when your salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva and is a common side-effect of medication. Dry mouth syndrome is rarely serious. However, because saliva is integral to gum health, it can be a frustrating condition to have. Learn more about the symptoms and treatments of dry mouth.
Dryness Inside the Mouth
Saliva prevents tooth decay. By neutralizing bacterial acids, it limits bacterial growth and is also responsible for washing food particles away. Producing less saliva than normal can be a minor nuisance or it can start to affect other parts of your life. If you’re experiencing dryness inside the mouth, it may feel like your tongue is swollen or made of sandpaper. Keeping hydrated can help alleviate this symptom.
Feeling of Stickiness
In addition to a rough dryness, dry mouth can also make the inside of the mouth feel sticky, as though your saliva is too thick. When the salivary glands aren’t producing enough saliva, they can overcompensate by producing saliva that is less diluted. This thick saliva can make it hard to speak and swallow, and even make you feel like you can’t breathe. A good way to deal with the stickiness is to suck on sugar-free hard candies. The lozenges stimulate salivary flow and temporarily relieve dry mouth symptoms. The sugar-free aspect is important because sugar contributes to tooth decay, which the lack of saliva is already exacerbating.
Thick and Stringy Saliva
When your mouth feels sticky and heavy, it’s because there isn’t enough moisture in your mouth to dilute it. Saliva aids digestion by breaking down your food before it enters the digestive system and underproduction of saliva is what makes it difficult to eat when ill with a cold or the flu. Chewing sugar-free gum can stimulate the flow of saliva. Not only will this bring moisture back to your mouth, but it will also thin out the saliva.
People with dry mouth often develop bad breath. When you’re suffering from dry mouth, you can brush multiple times a day and will still experience bad breath. When your saliva glands aren’t producing a sufficient amount of saliva, bacteria stick around. This bacteria plus the dryness itself is responsible for bad breath.
Dry mouth syndrome can make it hard to swallow. Sometimes, people with anxiety notice this symptom; anxiety is one of the conditions that can lead to dry mouth. If you’re finding it hard to swallow, an over-the-counter medication could help.
A Sore Throat
Often, dry mouth is accompanied by a sore throat which, when experienced in the morning, can be due to snoring, drooling, or sleep apnea. Sleep apnea will make the person who has it gasp for breath while they’re sleeping, which can make the throat feel raw. Having a glass of water by the bed, and being sure to hydrate in the morning, can alleviate this symptom.
A Rough Tongue
Dry mouth syndrome and the resulting rough tongue may be caused by various things, including too little water and too much coffee. Some people refer to this condition to as “burning tongue syndrome.” When your glands aren’t producing enough saliva, your tongue can feel like it’s burning. Ice or a popsicle can be the best treatment for a burning or rough tongue.
Altered Sense of Taste
Salivary problems automatically alter your sense of taste. Strong tastes can be weak or have an acidic aftertaste that you can’t explain. This makes eating less pleasurable and can, in some cases, lead to weight loss. Anticipating food should lead to saliva production. People with dry mouth syndrome don’t experience this normal sensation, and this can alter taste. Chewing gum before eating can help.
Even if dry mouth syndrome doesn’t cause a sore or dry throat, it can make the voice sound a little hoarse. Thick saliva makes speaking an unpleasant experience, and hoarseness can hurt and lead to a sore throat. Keeping hydrated is a good way to remedy hoarseness. Warm liquids such as herbal tea or warm water with lemon and honey can soothe the throat.
Ulcers are one of the worst symptoms of dry mouth. Ulcers are painful sores that appear inside of the mouth. They can form on the insides of your cheeks, lips, your tongue, or even your gums. They often form as a result of other symptoms. A rough tongue can lead to biting or scraping with your teeth, which can form an ulcer. Since saliva controls the bacteria and fungus in the mouth, a lack of it can lead to these sores. Mouth ulcers usually clear up on their own, but home remedies like a saltwater rinse can speed recovery.