By Nutrition Expert – Trupti Gurav,Mumbai
Saliva, or spit, is made by the salivary glands and is very important for a healthy mouth. It moistens and breaks down food, washes away food particles from the teeth and gums, and helps people with swallowing. In addition, saliva contains minerals such as calcium and phosphate that help keep teeth strong and fight tooth decay.
Dry mouth is also known as xerostomia. It occurs when salivary glands in your mouth don’t produce enough saliva. This condition causes a parched, or dry, feeling in your mouth. It can also cause other symptoms, such as bad breath, a dry throat, and cracked lips.
Dry mouth is not a normal part of aging. Dry mouth can happen to anyone occasionally—for example, when nervous or stressed. However, when dry mouth persists, it can make chewing, swallowing, and even talking difficult. Dry mouth also increases the risk for tooth decay or fungal infections in the mouth because saliva helps keep harmful germs in check.
What causes dry mouth?
Many things can cause dry mouth which include: 
Side effect of certain medications –
Dry mouth is a common side effect of many prescription and nonprescription drugs, Drug used to treat depression, anxiety, pain, allergies and cold (antihistamines and decongestants), obesity, acne, epilepsy, hypertension (diuretics), diarrhea, nausea, psychotic disorders, urinary incontinence, asthma , and Parkinson’s disease. Dry mouth can also be a side effect of muscle relaxants and sedatives.
Side effect of certain diseases and infections –
Dry mouth can be a side effect of medical conditions, including HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, anemia, cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and mumps.
Side effect of certain medical treatments-
Damage to the salivary glands, the glands that make saliva, can reduce the amount of saliva produced. For example, the damage could stem from radiation to the head and neck, and chemotherapy treatments, for cancer.
Dry mouth can be a result of nerve damage to the head and neck area from an injury or surgery.
Conditions that lead to dehydration, such as fever, excessive sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, blood loss, and burns can cause dry mouth.
Smoking or chewing tobacco can affect how much saliva you make and aggravate dry mouth. Breathing with your mouth open a lot can also contribute to the problem.
Surgical removal of the salivary glands.
Breathing through your mouth
What Are the Symptoms of Dry Mouth?
Symptoms of dry mouth include: 
- A sticky, dry feeling in the mouth
- Trouble chewing, swallowing, tasting, or speaking
- A burning feeling in the mouth
- A dry feeling in the throat
- Cracked lips
- A dry, rough tongue
- Mouth sores
- An infection in the mouth
- Bad breath
Home treatments for dry mouth 
Sipping water and staying hydrated can help relieve dry mouth. Studies have found that dehydration may be a factor in dry mouth. Increasing your water intake can help treat mild dehydration.
Avoid certain medications
More than 90 percent of dry mouth cases are caused by medications. Common types of medication that may cause dry mouth include: antihistamines, antihypertensive, hormone medications, bronchodilators. If you think your medication is causing your dry mouth, talk to your doctor. Never suddenly stop taking a medication without your doctor’s approval.
Caffeinated beverages can be dehydrating. Drinking caffeinated coffee or tea causes dry mouth.
Limit alcohol use
Alcohol may dehydrate, which can contribute to dry mouth. When experiencing dry mouth, try drinking water instead of alcohol. Interestingly though, alcohol use isn’t a proven risk factor.
Smoking tobacco can also dehydrate.
Drop sugar –
Like caffeine, alcohol, and smoking, sugar may dehydrate you. If you can, try cutting down on sugary foods to reduce dry mouth problems.
Chew sugarless gum
Sugar-free gum can also provide short-term relief from dry mouth.
Improve overall oral care
Dry mouth may be both a symptom and a cause of poor oral hygiene. Improving oral routines could be crucial to protecting the health of your mouth. This includes frequent flossing, fluoride toothpaste use, and mouthwash use. Mouthwash is effective in improving overall oral hygiene, which can factor into dry mouth.
Avoid breathing through your mouth
Mouth-breathing can make dry mouth worse and cause other oral health problems. Try breathing through your nose more often than your mouth, especially when experiencing any dry mouth discomfort.
Use Herbal remedies
Many herbs can help stimulate saliva production and temporarily relieve dry mouth, among them:
- Aloe vera the gel or juice inside aloe vera plant leaves is moisturizing for the mouth. Purchasing aloe vera juice is a great way to treat dry mouth.
- Ginger is a well-known herbal sialagogue. This means it helps stimulate saliva production, which also helps dry mouth.
- Sweet pepper – sweet peppers promote salivation.
Treatment for dry mouth
Your doctor will likely review any medications you’re taking to see if any may be causing your dry mouth.
They may give you a different amount to take or change your medication to relieve symptoms.
Your doctor may also prescribe artificial saliva or medications to increase saliva production in your mouth.
When to see a doctor
Talk with your doctor or dentist if you notice ongoing signs of dry mouth. These include:
dry feeling in your mouth or throat , thick saliva, rough tongue, cracked lips, trouble chewing or swallowing, altered sense of taste,bad breath
If you think that medications are causing your dry mouth, or if you notice other symptoms of an underlying condition, make an appointment with your doctor.
Your doctor can order blood tests and measure the amount of saliva you produce to help find out the cause of your dry mouth and suggest treatment options.