Synonyms: Dry mouth, Cotton mouth

Medical Specialties: Other

Clinical Definition

Xerostomia is an oral condition in which your mouth is extremely dry, resulting from an inadequate flow of saliva, which may affect enjoyment of food and impact the health of your teeth. Saliva fights bacterial build-up in the mouth. 

In Our Own Words

Dry mouth, technically known as xerostomia, occurs when the mouth doesn’t manufacture enough saliva to stay moist. Many older adults experience dry mouth, and side effects from medication are thought to be the main contributing factor. Many diseases, conditions and lifestyle factors can lead to dry mouth, including Sjögren's syndrome and Alzheimer's disease.

Certain conditions like Sjögren's syndrome are also associated with dryness in other areas, such as dry eyes. Common problems associated with dry mouth include a sore throat, burning sensations, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness and/or dry nasal passages. 

Relevant Conditions
Side Effects
  • Lack of saliva
  • Problems swallowing, chewing or talking
Share this article
  • Cleveland Clinic. Dry mouth treatment. http://my.clevelandclinic.org. Accessed July 2013.
  • American Dental Association. Dry mouth. http://www.mouthhealthy.org. Accessed July 2013.
  • Loma Linda University. School of Dentistry. Xerostomia. http://www.llu.edu. Accessed July 2013.
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