Dry mouth or known as its medical term, Xerostomia, results from reduced or absent saliva flow. Xerostomia is a hindrance that can cause many problems often leading to discomfort. Unbeknown to many, saliva works wonders for our mouths and possesses many important functions to help with daily activity. Saliva has an antimicrobial activity and mechanical cleansing of the mouth after eating, removing food particles and debris. Saliva lubricants the mouth making speech and mastication (eating) easier, without it these activities we take for granted become more difficult.
What can cause dry mouth?
- It can be a symptom of various medical conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome.
- A side effect of a radiation to the head and neck.
- A side effect of a wide variety of medications or concoction or multiple medications taken together.
- It may or may not be associated with decreased salivary gland function.
- It is a common complaint found often among older adults, affecting approximately 20 percent of the elderly. However, it does not appear to be related to age itself but for elderly to be taking medications that cause dry mouth as a side effect.
What are the common symptoms of dry mouth?
- A sticky, dry feeling in the mouth
- Frequent thirst
- Sores in the mouth; sores or split skin at the corners of the mouth; cracked lips
- A dry feeling in the throat
- A burning or tingling sensation in the mouth and especially on the tongue
- A dry, red, raw tongue
- Problems speaking or trouble tasting, chewing, and swallowing
- Hoarseness, dry nasal passages, sore throat
- Bad breath
Is there anything we can recommend for dry mouth? The answer is yes…
Firstly, you can try these other steps, which may help improve saliva flow:
- Suck on sugar-free sweets advised soft for your EvoSolution.
- Drink plenty of water to help keep your mouth moist, taking to bed at night as your mouth becomes naturally dryer at night-time.
- Swill around your mouth with water after eating to remove food debris.
- Breathe through your nose, not your mouth, as much as possible.
- Use an over-the-counter artificial saliva substitute.
- The dentist can prescribe an oral rinse to restore mouth moisture. If that does not help, your dentist may prescribe a medication that boosts saliva production.
If you think your dry mouth is caused by certain medication (this is something we can advise you on) we may suggest talking to your doctor. The doctor may adjust the dose you are taking or switch you to a different drug that does not cause dry mouth.
Not to worry! Dry mouth is rarely a sign of anything serious. Following the above guidance to help ease it yourself and should improve the current condition of your dry mouth, if it is something you would like myself or of the clinicians to chat with you about give us a call!
By Lauren McGovern, Dental Therapist at EvoDental