Xerostomia!! What??

Ok, it’s just throwing around big words. Xerostomia is nothing but Dry Mouth. Seems pretty straightforward, right? But, it isn’t really so.

Dry mouth is due to decreased flow of saliva and can be a sign of an underlying disease, or a cause of many oral issues.

So, why is saliva so important?

Saliva aids in speech, perception of taste, swallowing, early digestion of carbohydrates and protection of the teeth against cavities. Saliva, is also the first line of defence against any microorganisms that enter the body through the mouth.

What causes dry mouth?

The most common cause of a dry mouth is Dehydration, meaning that there isn’t enough fluid in the mouth to create the amount of saliva you need

The most common causes of dehydration include

  • decreased intake of fluids
  • excessive sweating
  • having a high fever for extended periods
  • stress
  • nervousness

At times the reason for dry mouth might be other than dehydration. These include

  • Medications: Certain medications like anti- allergy and antidepressant medicines can cause dry mouth. Do you think your medication is causing dry mouth?
  • Blocked nose: breathing through the mouth while asleep can result in a dry mouth.
  • Uncontrolled diabetes: Constantly high blood sugar levels increases the chances of infections and dryness in the mouth
  • Damage to the salivary gland: certain rare autoimmune diseases such as Sjogren’s syndrome damage the salivary gland reducing the salivary flow
  • Radiotherapy: Exposure of radiation to the head and neck region can cause inflammation of the salivary gland, causing a dry mouth. This effect is reversible and normal salivary flow will resume once the radiation is stopped.

What can a dry mouth cause?

  • Increased tooth cavities
  • Higher chances of infection in the mouth
  • Difficulty in chewing and swallowing
  • Altered sense of taste
  • Difficulty in speech
  • Burning sensation and soreness in the mouth
  • Dry lips
  • Bad breath

It is very important to maintain good oral hygiene if you have a dry mouth.

Treatment of dry mouth

If the underlying reason causing your dry mouth is determined, treating this may improve your symptoms.

  • If medication is the suspected cause, a reduction in your dose or an alternative medication might help.
  • Some of the conditions might have specific medications like nasal decongestants for a blocked nose or Insulin for diabetes

Other alternatives to combat the effects of dry mouth

  • Increase the intake of fluids: Dink adequate amount of water and unsweetened liquids.
  • Reduce the consumption of alcohol (including alcohol-based mouthwashes), soda, caffeine containing drinks as these all increase dehydration.
  • Reduce and eventually quit smoking: among its other ill effects, smoking also causes a reduced salivary flow.
  • Chew sugar-free gum as it stimulates salivary glands to produce more saliva
  • Suck on ice cubes: they help moisten your mouth

These methods generally help. Know a definitive solution for the dryness of your mouth.

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