Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a condition where the salivary glands do not produce a sufficient amount of saliva, thus this lack of saliva gives off a dry and uncomfortable sensation in the mouth.
Saliva contains enzymes and immunoglobulins that are vital to our digestion process; it moistens and breaks down food which makes it easier to swallow. Also, saliva offers a constant washing effect that removes food debris and bacteria away from gums and teeth.
In the following article, we will cover the symptoms of dry mouth, its causes, and treatment options.
Symptoms of dry mouth
- Constant feeling of thirst, especially at night.
- Dry sensation in the mouth.
- Bad breath.
- Sore throat
- Problems in speaking.
- Difficulty in swallowing.
- Frequent fungal infection.
- Cracked lips, especially in mouth corners.
- Red, sore and inflamed tongue.
Causes of dry mouth
- Dehydration: This is when your body loses plenty of fluids, such as in cases of vomiting or excessive sweating. The salivary glands will try to preserve body fluids by reducing the amount of saliva produced.
- Tobacco usage: lifestyle habits like smoking and chewing tobacco can further aggravate the symptoms of dry mouth.
- Aging: Dry mouth is common in seniors; this can be due to health issues or as a side effect of the medication they are consuming.
- Stress and anxiety: in these states, the body will produce a stress hormone that will negatively impact the salivary gland and lead to less saliva production.
- Medication: Dry mouth is one of the common side effects of many drugs, such as antihypertensive, antimalaria, muscle relaxants and antidepressants.
- Health problems: Having a dry mouth can be a symptom of an underlying medical issue such as diabetes, Sjogren syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, and anemia.
- Radiation therapy: radiotherapy to the head and neck can directly damage the salivary glands, which results in reduced saliva production.
- Nerve damage: sustaining an injury or having surgery to the head and neck region can cause damage to nerves and lead to dry mouth.
Dry mouth is a condition that should not be taken lightly and should be checked on your next dental checkup; not managing it can lead to serious complications like developing a sore mouth, gum inflammation, oral fungal infection, increased calculus formation on teeth and poor nutrition due to difficulty in chewing and swallowing.
Treatment options for dry mouth
First, you need to take good care of your teeth and gums by brushing your teeth and flossing every day. Also, your dentist at Las Vegas Smile will recommend frequent checkups and cleaning appointments to remove calculus and bacteria; this will prevent caries and gum inflammation.
Secondly, you may be offered over-the-counter artificial saliva which will moisten the mouth. If dry mouth was a side effect of a medication you are currently taking, you will be referred to your physician to alter your medication to another type.
Finally, apply simple remedies to elevate dry mouth symptoms such as frequent sipping of water, chewing sugarless gum, avoiding tobacco usage, and limiting salt intake in your diet.