Saliva plays a vital role in our lives. Contrary to popular opinion, saliva is responsible for our sense of taste, eliminating bacteria, and keeping the mouth lubricated. But what happens when our salivary glands are unable to produce enough saliva to perform these functions effectively? In that case, a condition known as dry mouth sets in.
Dry mouth is a term that refers to a situation where the salivary glands function inadequately and cannot produce enough saliva to keep the mouth lubricated. This condition creates a decreased volume of saliva in the mouth which can have severe consequences if left untreated.
Although our mouths often get dry during the summer or periods of intense exercise, some individuals experience frequent dry mouth at various time intervals irrespective of the season or state of the body. This condition is known as Xerostomia. Interested in knowing more? Keep reading to learn more about Dry Mouth, its causes, and its solution!
Causes of Dry Mouth
Dry mouth can be caused by several reasons, including exercise and weather. However, the most frequent causes of the condition known as Xerostomia are:
Medication: Certain OTC medications and prescriptions have been known to cause dry mouth as a side effect. These medications are used to treat conditions such as:
- Colds (antihistamines and decongestants)
Medical conditions: Dry mouth has been linked as a symptom of certain medical conditions. Patients who suffer from these conditions exhibit frequent and intense feelings of dry mouth due to the disruption of the ability of the salivary gland to produce saliva. Some of the conditions that have been linked with dry mouth include:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Sjögren’s syndrome,
Medical Treatments: Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy used in treating cancerous cells can cause dry mouth in cancer patients. When applied to the head and neck regions, these treatment procedures can damage the salivary glands, alter the nature of saliva the glands produce and the amount of saliva produced.
Age: Aging is not a direct cause of dry mouth. However, seniors take various medications that can lead to feelings of dry mouth.
Injury or Surgery: Nerve damage to the head or neck regions as a result of injury or surgery can damage the nerve endings responsible for sending signals to the salivary glands.
Symptoms of dry mouth
Apart from the actual feelings of dry mouth itself, there are several signs and symptoms that can occur as a result of dry mouth. Some of them include:
- Bad breath
- Sticky or stringy saliva
- Difficulty speaking, swallowing, or chewing
- Loss of sense of taste
- Sore throat
- Dry tongue
- Difficulty wearing dentures
- Mouth sores
- Increased risk of tooth decay, plaque, and periodontal diseases
How to Manage dry mouth
Dry mouth can be a severe menace, especially when it causes bad breath and affects your ability to chew and taste foods properly. Regardless, there are certain steps you can take to manage dry mouth without feeling its adverse effects.
- Use a fluoride-based toothpaste and solution to brush and rinse your teeth, respectively
- Chew sugar-free candy, especially the ones that contain xylitol. The sucking and chewing actions can help stimulate saliva production in the mouth.
- Drink copious amounts of water often.
- Avoid places with low humidity and even possible use a room vaporizer to moisturize your bedroom
- Purchase an OTC artificial saliva substitute
- Stay away from alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco. These substances may not cause dry mouth, but they can aggravate it.
- Reduce intake of spicy and salty foods
- Reduce breathing with your mouth as much as possible
Solution to Dry Mouth
The tips listed above can help you manage your dry mouth condition. Nonetheless, to achieve a stable solution to your dry mouth, you will need to schedule a consultation with a dentist.
A professional dentistry can help you diagnose and proffer a permanent solution to your dry mouth, allowing you to lead a normal life and enjoy the benefits that accrue to a functional salivary gland.