Overview | Symptoms | Causes | Complications | Diagnosis | Treatment | Remedies | Prevention
Many of us may have experienced dry mouth. We often take it for granted. But do you know that dry mouth is a medical condition? If no, then there are high chances that you don’t know how complicated it can be if not treated. Let’s know more about it.
What is known as a dry mouth?
Simply, dry mouth is a condition that refers that one has lack of saliva in his/ her mouth. Dry mouth is also known as Xerostomia. When our salivary glands are unable to make enough saliva to keep its mouth dry, then this condition is known as dry mouth. There can be many reasons behind the occurrence of dry mouths, such as medication, aging, radiation therapy, etc. In rare cases, it happens when due to some conditions, our salivary glands get affected and are unable to make enough saliva.
You may be thinking that why saliva is so necessary for us?
So here, is your answer. Saliva neutralizes the acids produced by bacteria, by washing our food with saliva and limiting bacterial growth. Enzymes present in saliva helps indigestion. Saliva also makes our food easier to gulp up, and also enhances the ability to taste. To perform all the tasks better, saliva is needed. Loss of low saliva production impacts our general and oral health too.
We often experience dry mouth – when we angry, upset, extremely frightened, or under stress. But Xerostomia or dry mouth is different from these above-mentioned situations because a person suffering from dry mouth has his or her mouth dry almost every time. Dry mouth is not a disease but a symptom of many other diseases including severe ones.
Symptoms of dry mouth:
- Dry or sore throat
- Bad breath
- Changed sense of smell
- The stickiness of the mouth
- Cracking of lips
- Fungal infections in the mouth, such as thrush, candidiasis, etc.
- Thick and stringy saliva
- Dry eyes
- Experiencing difficulty in speaking along with chewing and swallowing of food.
- Cracking or fissuring of the oral mucosa, or inner lining of the lips and cheeks
- Dry or grooved tongue
- Red and bleeding gums
- Glossodynia, or pain of the tongue
- Problems in denture wearing
- Craving for the drinking water, especially during the night
- Gum diseases
- Tongue sticking to the palate
- Persistent cough
- Sore throat
- Dry nasal passage
- Pale gums
- Tooth decay
Causes of dry mouth:
- Some autoimmune disorders
- Prolonged or overuse of medications
- Hormonal imbalance
- Shortness of breath
- Removal of salivary glands
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Cystic fibrosis
- Cancer therapy
- Nerve damage
- Keeping your mouth open while sleeping
- Breathing through mouth
- Recreational drug use
- Parkinson’s disease
- Salivary hands diseases
- Alcohol consumption
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Chewing tobacco
- Exercising and playing in hot temperatures.
- Anxiety disorders
- Nerve damage
Complications of dry mouth:
- Gum diseases
- Tooth decay
- Increased plaque
- Mouth sores or mouth ulcers
- Yeast infection in your mouth
- Cracked lips
- Sores or split skin at the corners of your mouth
- Poor nutrition, as dry mouth leads to problems in chewing and swallowing of food. Which decreases food consumption, results in poor nutrition.
- Lupus erythematosus disease
Diagnosis of dry mouth:
The doctor or dentist will examine the mouth of the patient. Followed by some medical tests such as blood tests and imaging scans of the salivary glands.
Diagnosis of dry mouth may also include:
- Biopsy – In this, a small sample of salivary glands tissue is taken to examine it. A biopsy is prescribed when any syndrome or malignancy ( cancer) is suspected.
- Sialometry: This simple test is conducted to measure the flow of saliva. In this, saliva production is stimulated with the help of citric acid.
- Saliography: The radiographic examination of the salivary glands and duct is known as Saliography. It may be helpful in identifying the salivary gland’s stones masses.
Treatment of dry mouth:
- Medications: If the cause of your dry mouth is prolonged use of medications, then you need to consult a doctor first. Either your doctor will alter the dosage of medication or will prescribe you a new one as a substitute.
- Medications to stimulate saliva production: Some medications like pilocarpine ( salagen), cevimeline (Evoxac), etc. Can be taken to increase the production of alive of the mouth.
According to experts, symptomatic treatment for dry mouth can be done. It includes four areas:
- Increasing the flow of saliva
- Restoring lost secretion
- Controlling dental caries
- Treating infections and other measures.
Thinks to avoid:
- Sugary foods and drinks
- Spicy foods
- Dry foods
- Acidic foods and drinks
- Excessively hot or cold drinks
- Chewing tobacco
- Caffeine consumption should be under control
- Try to avoid alcohol consumption
Remedies to treat dry mouth:
- Drink loads and loads of water to keep yourself hydrated
- More than 400 types of medications cause dry mouth. If you are on medication, ask your doctor to change the prescription.
- Chewing gums that contain xylitol.
- Avoid wearing dentures during sleep
- Use humidifiers to add moisture to your room, which may help to reduce dry mouth symptoms, especially during sleep.
- Avoid carbonated drinks.
- Avoid using alcohol-based mouthwash.
- Breath through your nose. Avoid breathing through your mouth even while sleeping, as it results in a dry mouth.
- A person suffering from dry mouth must take special care of his or her oral hygiene. Including brushing and flossing your teeth daily.
- Quit smoking is a must.
- Over–the–counter products like toothpaste, rinses, mints, etc. help to relieve dry mouth symptoms.
- Sipping water often will help to keep your mouth moist.
- Drink water while having meals, which will help you to chew and swallow the food you eat.
- Visit your dentist from time to time for regular cleanings and exams.
- Limit your salt and sugar intake
- You can use saliva substituted products if needed.
- Take a vitamin-rich diet, especially Vitamin C and B vitamins.
- Use saliva stimulant products
Just go to your dentist if you are experiencing any kind of symptoms of Xerostomia. As early as it diagnosed, as early and easy will be the treatment.