21 Jul Dry Mouth Xerostomia
Dry Mouth – Xerostomia
Dry mouth or Xerostomia is a condition usually caused by low saliva production or due to a change in the composition of saliva. In some cases, there is no single identifiable cause for dry mouth. Dry mouth is more of a symptom than an actual disease. It is a fairly common condition that is observed in individuals who consume heavy medication, especially older people and people who breathe through their mouth. Xerostomia is particularly common in elderly women with poor general health. In some cases, Xerostomia is a subjective sensation associated, though not always, with the hypo-function of the salivary glands. Smokers and drug addicts also often show symptoms of dry mouth.
Saliva plays a key role in our body and low production of saliva can cause various medical complications. Saliva is important as it helps fight tooth decay by neutralising acids produced by bacteria. Saliva makes it easier for us to chew our food and swallow it. The enzymes present in saliva aid the digestion process by breaking down and softening the food we eat.
Symptoms and treatment for Xerostomia
Some of the common symptoms for dry mouth include low saliva production, constant thirst, dryness in the mouth or throat, thick and stringy saliva, bad breath, change in sense of taste and so on. Dry mouth can lead to other complications such as tooth decay, gum decease, plaque collection, poor nutrition caused by improper chewing and mouth sores.
There is no specific treatment, surgical or otherwise, for the dental problem. The treatment lies in identifying the cause of the dry mouth. If a cause cannot be identified, symptomatic treatment is provided. Most of the treatments are preventive in nature. To treat dry mouth, a test is first carried out to assess the quality and quantity of the saliva production. Following which, hydration levels are checked to assess water intake. In a lot of cases, dry mouth is caused due to low water intake. The main focus is to stimulate saliva production.
Some of the standard steps to alleviate the symptoms of dry mouth and increase saliva production include:
• Constant rehydration. It is very important to consume the right amount of fluids
• Sucking on sugar-free candy or ice pop can help stimulate saliva production.
• Chewing sugar-free gum.
• Using an oral moisturiser or saliva substitute.
• Using non-alcoholic mouthwashes.
• Avoiding foods and beverages with high salt or sugar content.
• Avoiding alcohol, smoking and caffeine.