Dry mouth or xerostomia is a condition where the mouth is usually dry and it is due to the decreasing saliva production by the glands in the mouth known as the salivary glands. Dry mouth can range from a nuisance to more serious health problems like health status of the teeth, the appetite and enjoyment of food.
Saliva can help in the prevention of tooth decay since it helps neutralize the acids that are produced by the bacteria, minimizing the growth of bacteria and washes away leftover food particles, and the enzymes found in saliva aids in the digestion.
What are the symptoms of dry mouth?
If the individual is not producing enough saliva, there are signs and symptoms that you have to watch out.
- There is dryness in the mouth and throat
- Bad breath
- There are problems when wearing dentures
- Gum disease and gum irritation
- Saliva that is thick and stringy
- The sense of taste is changing
- Dry mouth in women happens when the lipstick sticks to the teeth.
What are the causes of dry mouth?
- Some medications like over-the-counter medicines can cause dry mouth as side effects. Medications that treat depression, anxiety, nerve pain also known as neuropathy, and other antihistamines, decongestants, pain medications and muscle relaxants can also cause a dry mouth.
- When a person ages, it cannot cause a dry mouth, but older people taking medications that can cause dry mouth can have other health conditions that will cause dry mouth.
- Chemotherapy drugs changes the nature and the amount of saliva produced, this is only temporary, but the normal salivary flow returns after the treatment is completed. A radiation treatment in the head and neck can damage the salivary glands and there is a decrease in the saliva production. It can be temporary or permanent depending on the dose of radiation administered to the affected area.
- Dry mouth can also be caused by an injury or surgery that will cause damage to the head and neck areas.
- Smoking and eating tobacco can cause mouth symptoms.
- A “meth mouth” involves the use of methamphetamine that can cause a severe dry mouth and can damage the teeth.
Treatment and home remedies
The following first aid measure and remedies can help relieve dry mouth.
- Drink water or beverages that are sugar-free or sucking ice chips throughout the day to make the mouth moist, and drinking water during meals to help with the chewing and swallowing of the food.
- Chewing sugar-free candies, but a xylitol which is an ingredient in some sugar-free candies causes diarrhea or cramps in some people when consumed in larger amounts.
- Take over-the-counter saliva substitutes.
- The person should breathe through the nose and not through the mouth.
- You can add a room humidifier to add moisture to the air during night time
- Avoid products that will make the symptoms worse like caffeine and alcohol since they can cause dryness and irritation as well as mouthwash that contains alcohol.
- Avoid using over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestant which can make dry mouth worst.
- Brushing the teeth with toothpaste that contains fluoride and proper flossing the teeth.
- Visit a dentist at least twice a year to check for possible problems that might require attention.