We all need saliva to moisten our mouth and for the digestion of food. Saliva also prevents from the bacteria and fungi in the mouth. The lubricating properties of saliva provides comfort and helps prevents the oral tissues against ulcers or sores. Saliva neutralizes acids and helps defend against tooth decay, and bacterial, viral, or fungal threats.Saliva is also a very essential contributor to a person’s ability to taste, as it acts as a solvent for the taste stimuli. When saliva volume is decreased, all of these functions are impaired. When we don’t make enough saliva, our mouth gets dry and uncomfortable.
- Dry mouth is a disorder caused by the decrease in the volume of saliva in the mouth.
- It is also known as Xerostomia.
- This syndrome is associated with either change in the composition of saliva in mouth or reduced salivary flow or can have indefinable cause.
- Xerostomia can make it difficult for a person to eat, speak and digest food and can cause malnutrition.
- Extreme dry mouth can produce anxiety or permanent mouth or throat disorders.
- Dry mouth has a major impact on a person’s general health or the health of teeth or gums as well as on a person’s appetite.
- Dry mouth affects about 10% of all people and tends to be more prevalent in women than men.
- Dry mouth is most commonly reported among the elderly people because of the frequent medications and all at the same time.
- Dryness in the mouth and throat area
- Viscous saliva
- Sore throat
- Increase in plaque development
- Bad breath
- Mouth sores
- Altered sense of taste
- Tooth decay
- Development of gum and/or periodontal disease
- Difficulty in speaking, swallowing and talking
- Dry eyes
- Pale gums
- Difficulty in digestion
Dry mouth is caused when the salivary glands in the mouth don’t make enough saliva to keep your mouth wet. These glands may not work properly as the result of:
- MEDICATIONS – Hundred of medications can cause dry mouth as a side effect. This causes decrease in the production of saliva in the mouth , including high blood pressure, depression, anxiety medications and many more.
- AGING – Many elderly people experience dry mouth as they age.Factors that contribute to this include medications, change in the body’s ability to process the medications ,inadequate nutrition and having long-term health problems.
- NERVE DAMAGE – An injury or surgery that causes nerve damage to your head or neck can cause dry mouth.
- DEHYDRATION – Conditions that cause dehydration such as fever, excessive sweating, diarrhea , blood loss and burns can cause dry mouth.
- TOBACCO AND ALCOHOL USE – Drinking alcohol and smoking or chewing tobacco can increase dry mouth symptoms.
- RECREATIONAL DRUG – Use of Methamphetamine can cause severe dry mouth and damage to teeth, a condition also known as “meth mouth.” Marijuana also can cause dry mouth.
- OTHER HEALTH CONDITIONS – Dry mouth can be due to certain health conditions, such as diabetes, stroke, yeast infection in your mouth or Alzheimer’s disease, or due to auto-immune diseases, such as Sjogren’s syndrome or HIV/AIDS. Snoring and breathing with your mouth open also can contribute to dry mouth.
- LIFESTYLE – Smoking or chewing tobacco can affect how much saliva you make and aggravate dry mouth.
- CHEW SUGAR FREE GUM or suck on sugar-free hard candies to stimulate the flow of saliva. For some people, xylitol, which is often found in sugar-free gum or sugar-free candies, may cause diarrhea or cramps if consumed in large amounts.
- LIMIT YOUR CAFFEIN INTAKE because caffeine can make your mouth drier.
- DONT USE MOUTH WASHES THAT CONTAIN ALCOHOL because they can be drying.
- TRY FOR A MOUTHWASH DESIGNED FOR DRY MOUTH— especially one that contains xylitol, such as Biotene Dry Mouth Oral Rinse or ACT Total Care Dry Mouth Mouthwash, which also offers protection against tooth decay.
- AVOID ACIDIC OR SUGARY FOOD AND DRINKS because they increase your risk of tooth decay.
- BRUSH WITH A FLOURIDE TOOTHPASTE — ask your dentist if you might benefit from fluoride toothpaste.
- USE A FLOURIDE RINSE or brush-on fluoride gel before bedtime. Occasionally a custom-fit fluoride applicator (made by your dentist) can make this more effective.
- VISIT YOUR DENTIST AT LEAST TWICE YEARLY to detect and treat tooth decay or other dental problems.
If these steps don’t improve your dry mouth, talk to your doctor or dentist. The cause could be a medication or another condition. Medications are one of the most common causes of dry mouth. Long-term relief from your dry mouth may mean stopping or changing your medication or its dosage, or addressing underlying health issues. Improve your oral health and stay in touch with the best endodontist in the city, Dr. Shruti Malik.