Dry mouth is characterized by lack of sufficient saliva in the mouth. In medical terms, it is called xerostomia. Among its prominent symptoms, dry mouth can cause a roughened, prickly sensation on the tongue. Although some cases of this condition are temporary and insignificant, others may indicate the presence of a more serious underlying condition. Potential remedies for dry mouth vary according to the source of symptoms.
Understanding Dry Mouth
Temporary dry mouth is not uncommon, and can be triggered by common factors such as stress or physical activity. However, if you have a dry mouth most of the time, its cause may be more serious. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, if you suffer from medically significant dry mouth, your symptoms may also include a sticky or burning feeling in your mouth, a dry sensation in your throat, cracked lips, and mouth sores or infection. You may also experience difficulty chewing, speaking, tasting or swallowing. Potential causes for your symptoms include medication side effects; diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and AIDS infection; nerve damage; radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Treatment for your dry mouth will depend on its cause. If your symptoms are caused by prescription medication, your doctor may adjust your daily dosages or prescribe another medication. If your symptoms are caused by improper function of your salivary glands, your doctor may prescribe a medication to improve your saliva production. According to the Mayo Clinic, potential treatment options here include cevimeline (Evoxac) and pilocarpine (Salagen). As an alternative, your doctor may recommend an artificial saliva product that contains hydroxyethyl cellulose or carboxymethylcellulose.
Take a number of steps to ease the effects of your dry mouth and prickly tongue. To keep your mouth hydrated, drink water or another sugarless liquid at regular intervals throughout the day. During meals, sip small amounts of water or another liquid to make chewing and swallowing easier. To stimulate your natural flow of saliva, suck on sugarless candy or chew sugarless gum. Products flavored with mint, citrus or cinnamon may be particularly effective.
Stay away from liquids that may worsen dry mouth, including caffeinated items such as coffee, tea and sodas. Tobacco and alcohol are known to cause dry mouth. If you smoke or drink, limiting your intake may improve your symptoms. If you habitually breathe through your mouth, try to breathe through your nose as often as possible. Brushing regularly with fluoride toothpaste can ease your dry mouth symptoms. Also, before you go to bed, rinse your mouth with a fluoride-containing liquid or use a fluoride gel. Also consider using a humidifier to moisten the air in your home, especially at night. Consult your doctor or dentist for additional advice on combating the effects of dry mouth and prickly tongue.