Guide To Dry Mouth
Dry mouth is a condition in which there is a reduced flow of saliva in the mouth. Also known as hyposalivation, asialorrhea and xerostomia, dry mouth is a fairly common condition, especially among older adults.
Saliva in the mouth is extremely important not just to keep the mouth wet and moist, but also to aid in the digestive process. Saliva helps keep our mouth clean, and prevents oral infections by controlling the amount of bacteria produced in the mouth. It neutralizes the effect of acids, and increases your enjoyment of food. Some of the minerals that saliva contains can also treat the early signs of tooth decay. A lack or a reduced supply of saliva can affect these processes adversely.
The feeling of dryness in your mouth is one of the easiest–to-spot symptoms of dry mouth.
Other symptoms include
- Increased thirst.
- Dryness in the throat
- Stickiness in the mouth
- Oral sores
- Cracked lips
- Cracked skin, especially at the corner of the lips
- Dryness of the tongue
- Burning sensation in the mouth
- Bad breath
- A change in the sense of taste
- Dry nasal passages
- Speaking and swallowing problems
- Increased gum disease and tooth decay
Causes of dry mouth
Dry mouth can be attributed to several causes. Some of these are
Dry mouth is one of the most common side effects of hundreds of medications, both prescribed as well as over-the-counter medicines. These medications include drugs that are used to treat high blood pressure, anxiety and depression, anti-diarrheals, anti-histamines, anti-obesity drugs, anti-acne medications and drugs used to treat epilepsy, urinary incontinence and Parkinson’s disease. Besides these, certain bronchodilators, sedatives, muscle relaxants and hyper tension medications can also cause dry mouth as a side effect.
Radiation treatments used to treat cancer can adversely affect the salivary glands, thus impacting the production of saliva. Certain chemotherapy drugs can also alter the composition of saliva, as well as the quantity produced.
Dryness of the mouth can result from damage to the nerves of the head and neck, either during a surgery or because of an injury.
Certain infections and health conditions including HIV AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, stroke, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, mumps, anemia, depression, cystic fibrosis and other conditions can also produce dry mouth.
Dehydration occurs in the body when you suffer from sever vomiting, diarrhea, fever, loss of blood or burns on your body. This dehydration can cause dry mouth.
People who smoke or chew tobacco can find themselves suffering from dry mouth because these actions impact saliva production.
Inhaling through your mouth or snoring can also lead to dryness of mouth.
Besides these, a surgical removal of the salivary glands will obviously impact saliva production.
Your dentist will conduct an oral examination to determine the presence of dry mouth. He may recommend blood tests and scans, and other tests of your salivary glands to determine the cause of dry mouth.
Your dentist may prescribe pilocarpine or cevimeline to boost the production of saliva. If your dry mouth has been caused by medication, your doctor may alter your dosage or change the medication to a new one that does not cause dry mouth. Your dentist may also prescribe an oral mouth wash or rinse that restores moisture in the mouth.
There are certain things you can do on your own to stimulate saliva production.
- Suck on sugar free candy or chew sugar free gum
- Avoid foods that are high on acidity
- Drink a lot of water
- Avoid tea, coffee and soft drinks
- Avoid smoking and alcohol consumption
- Avoid overly salty or spicy foods
- Ask your dentist to recommend an artificial substitute for saliva that is available over the counter
- Use a humidifier to increase the moisture content in your bed room
- Avoid inhaling through your mouth