​Dry Mouth 

Dry mouth (Xerostomia) is a chronic inflammatory disease where your salivary glands fail to function adequately. As a result there is insufficient saliva production in your mouth to keep it wet. Saliva is needed not only to moisten and cleanse your mouth, but also to prevent infections by fighting bacteria and fungi. 

It is common to have a dry mouth occasionally in certain situations, such as when you are nervous, stressed, upset, dehydrated or as a side effect of certain kinds of medication. However, if you are experiencing dry mouth frequently and it is causing you discomfort, it could be a sign of an underlying problem that could lead to serious health complications. 

Dry mouth may lead to troubles when speaking, chewing, tasting, swallowing and can even interfere with your appetite. Dry mouth could also lead to other serious health problems, such as increased levels of tooth decay and mouth infections (including thrush).  Dry mouth can be the result and symptom of other diseases like Sjögren’s syndrome, <systematic lupus erythematous (lupus)>, <diabetes> and <arthritis>. ​​

If you are experiencing dry mouth, other symptoms you may notice include:

  • Dryness in your throat

  • Dry lips 

  • Dehydration and thirst 

  • A red, dry and raw tongue 

  • Saliva that is thick and stringy 

  • A sore throat or burning sensation in your mouth

  • Bad breath 

  • Gum disease and tooth decay 

  • An affected or altered sense of taste

  • Trouble with eating, swallowing or speaking

  • Hoarseness or dry nasal passages  

  • Frequent mouth infections (e.g. oral thrush) ​

You should visit your doctor or dentist if you are experiencing the symptoms mentioned above persistently.
Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are s​ome tips to help get you started.​ ​

If you visit your doctor with complaints of dry mouth, he or she will conduct a clinical exam and ask about your medical record as well as medical and family history. They may also ask if you are taking any medications that could be causing dry mouth as a side effect. At The Aga Khan University Hospital, we use the most effective medical methods to facilitate an early diagnose of the disease and discover its cause. In order to diagnose dry mouth, our medical staff may conduct the following tests:

  • Blood tests: to test for signs of Sjogren’s syndrome

  • Eye tests: to examine whether or not you experience dryness in your eyes as well as your mouth 

  • Chest x-rays or imaging scans: to examine your lungs, to see if there are any signs of inflammation 

  • Salivary exams: to inspect the functioning of your salivary glands 

Oral hygiene is very important, especially if you want to reduce the symptoms of dry mouth and prevent dental problems. It is recommended that you visit your dentist regularly so that they may recognize and treat any signs of an ailment earlier on. However, you should visit your dentist if symptoms persist and are frequent.​

The internationally trained doctors at the <Teeth and Skin> at The Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi offer a number of treatment options to help against dry mouth. The options that are chosen for you will depend on a number of factors, such as your age and the cause of your ailment. Your dentist may suggest:

  • Products that moisturize your mouth: these include products that will help lubricate your mouth and alleviate dryness. Products may include over-the-counter or prescription mouth rinses, moisturizers or artificial saliva.

  • Medications that stimulate saliva: prescription medication may be used to stimulate saliva production 

  • Teeth protection measures: to prevent cavities or infection, your doctor may suggest fluoride trays or a weekly chlorhexidine rinse. 

  • If dry mouth is a symptom of medication that you are taking, your doctor may alter the dosage or suggest an alternative that does not cause symptoms of dry mouth.  ​

There are certain steps that you can take that may lessen the symptoms of dry mouth. Your medical practitioner may suggest you to suck on sugar-free candy, drink plenty of water, or use a fluoride rinse or toothpaste​.​

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage​.

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.