When the salivary glands cannot produce enough saliva, the mouth becomes dry. This condition is usually marked by bad breath or dryness around the lips. What causes extreme dry mouth varies from person to person, as there are many factors which may lead to it. If a person smokes incessantly or sleeps with his or her mouth open, this may lead to having a dry mouth. Other causes are anxiety, prescription drugs, and certain medical conditions.
Having a dry mouth may result in problems such as difficulty eating or speaking. In some cases, the condition may be severely bothersome, but extreme dry mouth, or xerostomia, as it is medically termed, is not a dangerous disease. Its complications, however, may indicate other health issues that a person should not ignore.
Extreme dry mouth is also associated with certain emotional occurrences. Anxiety and dry mouth have often been linked together in cases where a person has to speak in front of a crowd or face a public audience. Some public speakers and performers prefer to have a supply of drinking water on stand-by, for quick dry mouth relief.
People taking prescription medications for conditions like hypertension or depression can also experience extreme dry mouth, more so if the treatments are taken in strong dosages and administered regularly. Common medications like antihistamines and muscle relaxants can also cause the glands to produce less saliva. If taking these medications cause severe dry mouth in a patient, a doctor will sometimes recommend changing the medicine altogether.
Those who have been under trauma as a result of surgery to the mouth or throat can also have severe dry mouth due to damaged nerves. Those who have diabetes or Sjögren syndrome, which is a condition that affects the glands that produce tears and saliva, are susceptible to having extreme dry mouth. Older people are more prone to dry mouths because these medical conditions tend to afflict people after the age of 40.
Cancer patients who are undergoing radiation therapy can lose their capacity to produce enough saliva, hence causing them to also suffer from the discomforts of constant dry mouth. Chemotherapy treatments can result in a patient having thicker saliva, which does not help moisturize the mouth properly. This cancer treatment can cause nerves and glands to become nonfunctional.
Regular water intake, chewing mint candies or gum, and having good oral hygiene are some simple dry mouth remedies. Humidifiers are also recommended because breathing moist air can incite saliva reproduction. If necessary, using special medical aids that make it possible to produce more saliva can be administered in cases where a patient is suffering from extreme dry mouth.