What Is It?
The medical term for it is Xerostomia, but doctors call it “dry mouth.” Saliva flow can greatly decrease or even stop completely. People need saliva to clean their mouth and digest food too.
What Causes It
There are several things that could contribute to this. They include
- Infection – There are several diseases which could cause this. They include HIV/AIDS, diabetes and Parkinson’s.
- Medication – When one sees commercials for medications, there are always a long list of side effects that seem to scroll too fast for the human eye to see or are spoken in such a torrent of words that it’s difficult to pick out which is which. Dry mouth is often one listed side effect of many different medications. It’s often a case of something fixing a problem while causing another.
- Nerve damage – People who have
- Radiation – People who are undergoing chemotherapy often get dry mouth as a side effect, especially if they are getting it in the head or neck area. It can even change the amount of saliva the body produces.
- Tobacco – Smoking can cause dry mouth. The same with chewing tobacco – which can be problematic since that requires a lot of spitting and not being able to do that will lead to a quite uncomfortable experience.
- Open/mouth sleeping/snoring – Having one’s mouth open for hours at a time are definitely going to make someone a candidate for dry mouth.
There are quite a few symptoms that show up with dry mouth.
- Bad breath
- Cracked lips
- Taste disorders
- Fungal infections like thrush
- Tongue pain
- Drinking a lot at night
- Denture retention problems
- Painful tongue
- Difficulty swallowing, especially dry food like crackers
- Sore throat
These symptoms may also indicate other conditions, so it’s important to go see a doctor if they do show up. Only a medical professional can make the correct diagnosis.
Why Can It Be Such a Problem?
One thing that helps keep one’s mouth free of bacteria is saliva. It washes things out constantly. If that is not there, then bacteria can breed on the gums and since the mouth is dry, it can cause cuts and then subsequent infections on top of the one that may be causing the dry mouth in the first place. It’s not a situation that can sustain itself and something needs to be done to remedy it, otherwise things can get worse… very quickly.
Best Ways to Handle It
There are a variety of things that people can do to help regulate this:
- Drink water or beverages that are not carbonated and don’t have any sugar in them
- Chew gum with Xylitol in it
- Use a saliva substitute mouthwash
- Use alcohol-free mouthwash
- Do not leave dentures in the mouth overnight
- Eating carrots or celery
- Breathe through the nose, not the mouth
- Get a humidifier to keep moisture in a room
Sugary or spicy foods should be avoided and alcoholic and caffeinated beverages kept to a minimum.
The population that tends to have this the most is the elderly, but if one has one of the conditions listed above, then there is always a chance they could get this too. It is far from the end of the world for most, and can be managed by doing the above things.
When it comes to handling dry mouth, the staff at VIP Dental Center are pros at handling it. They will examine the situation and determine the cause and help remedy it. They will be glad to answer any questions during an appointment. Give them a call at 727-787-2424.