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Between 30% and 56% of patients with COVID-19 may present with dry mouth as a symptom.

 Dry mouth could occur as a direct consequence of the coronavirus.

dry mouth as a symptom Covid

Different scientific studies have shown that the prevalence of xerostomia or dry mouth increases to 30-56% in patients with COVID-19, while in the general population, excluding the effects of the pandemic, it can vary between 20-40%.

Xerostomia, or the subjective sensation of dry mouth, is usually associated with a decrease or absence of saliva or changes in saliva composition. This decrease in saliva production can negatively affect the patient's health and quality of life.

Hypotheses developed by different researchers suggest that in the context of patients affected by COVID-19, dry mouth could occur as a direct consequence of the coronavirus, which affects the salivary glands and leads to decreased saliva production. This involvement could be caused by the expression in the salivary glands of ACE-2 receptors, which the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus uses to infect human cells.
Sometimes, this direct effect of the virus could be aggravated by side effects of medications used to treat the symptoms produced by the virus or by the continued use of the mask, which promotes mouth breathing instead of nasal breathing, contributing to a more excellent dryness of the oral cavity.

The appearance of xerostomia can vary depending on age and general health and can occur due to numerous medications, tobacco or alcohol, aging, stress, anxiety, some diseases, and, as different researchers point out, as a consequence of COVID-19. However, the main symptoms that alert to the possibility of suffering from dry mouth or xerostomia are:

  •     The sensation of dry mouth and/or pasty mouth.
  •     Burning tongue.
  •     Bad breath.
  •     Taste alteration.
  •     Persistent feeling of thirst.
  •     Difficulty chewing, swallowing or speaking.
  •     dry lips
Lack of moisture in the oral cavity can cause various clinical manifestations in the mouth and decrease the quality of life of the patient suffering from xerostomia.
Its effects can range from dryness, redness or irritation, inflammation of the mucous membranes (stomatitis), bad breath (halitosis), fissures in the lips and tongue, or an increased risk of oral infections, among others.
Saliva is necessary for the proper functioning the oral cavity since it serves to clean and protect the mouth, perceive taste, digest, facilitate speech, or regulate pH. In addition to the discomfort described above, a decrease in the normal secretion of saliva can lead to the accumulation of harmful bacteria responsible for the appearance of cavities, gum disease, bad breath, or repeated oral infections, among others.

Since xerostomia can be a disorder derived from other systemic diseases, its management may involve different health professionals, such as dentists or physicians specialized in each pathology.
 Xerostomia is a general problem that affects more than just COVID-19 patients. It is a disorder that affects the general population, and more so now, with the use of masks, which induces a lower saliva flow and dries the mouth a lot; the time of mask use is proportional to the dry mouth.

In most cases, dry mouth can be treated by restoring or stimulating salivary secretion. One of the possible solutions could be the recommendation of using products that help hydrate the oral cavity and favor the natural production of saliva. In cases of irreversible xerostomia, the solution involves maximum hydration of the oral cavity.