Dealing with Dry mouth
WHAT IS DRY MOUTH ( XEROSTOMIA)?
Dry mouth syndrome is a condition where there is not enough saliva in the mouth. Saliva is produced by salivary glands in our mouth and one of the main functions is to lubricate our mouths to help with important functions like swallowing,speech and disease prevention. There are many reasons why we can have a reduced saliva production.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF DRY MOUTH?
- Medication side-effects — did you know over 300- 400 medicines can cause dry mouth, including antihistamines, decongestants, pain killers, diuretics and medicines for high blood pressure and depression.
- Disease — diseases that affect the salivary glands, such as diabetes, Hodgkin’s, Parkinson’s disease, HIV/AIDS and Sjogren’s syndrome, may lead to dry mouth.
- Radiation therapy — the salivary glands can be damaged if your head or neck are exposed to radiation during cancer treatment. The loss of saliva can be total or partial, permanent or temporary.
- Chemotherapy — drugs used to treat cancer can make saliva thicker, or “ropey,” causing your mouth to feel dry.
- Menopause — changing hormone levels affect the salivary glands, often leaving menopausal and post-menopausal women with a persistent feeling of dry mouth.
- Smoking — many pipe, cigar and heavy cigarette smokers experience dry mouth.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF DRY MOUTH?
All of us have a dry mouth from time to time (especially when dehydrated) but some of the more chronic symptoms once may present with are:
- A sticky, dry feeling in your mouth
- Trouble swallowing
- A burning sensation on your tongue
- A dry feeling in your throat
- Cracked lips
- Reduced ability to taste things or a metallic taste in your mouth
- Mouth sores
- Frequent bad breath
- Difficulty chewing/speaking
HOW IS DRY MOUTH TREATED?
Ideally to treat the condition of dry-mouth is to address the cause.
If your dry mouth is the result of medication, your doctor might change your prescription or your dosage. If your salivary glands are not working properly but still produce some saliva, your doctor might give you a medicine that helps the glands work better.
If the cause of your dry mouth cannot be eliminated, or until it can be, you can restore moisture to your mouth a number of different ways. Your dentist may recommend mouth moisturizers, such as a saliva substitute. Rinsing with mouthwashes specially formulated to help dry mouth may also bring relief. You can also:
- Sip water often
- Avoid drinks with caffeine, such as coffee, tea and some soft drinks
- Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless hard candy to stimulate saliva flow (if some salivary gland function exists)
- Don’t use tobacco or alcohol
- some foods – salty and spicy foods can exacerbate dry-mouth symptoms
- A humidifier may help at night
SEE YOUR DENTIST ABOUT YOUR DRY MOUTH – THEY CAN HELP!
As there is reduced saliva with dry-mouth, there is a greater risk of tooth decay as we ll as gum disease and other pathological conditions. Regularly get your teeth and mouth examined by your dentist to help any prevent any problems.
Dentists may recommend certain additional care to your at home dental care routine e.g. using mouth gels that lubricate the mouth. There are available on the market e.g.
GC Dry Mouth Gel, Biotene oral balance, Oral seven teeth gel
At Parklands Dental our team can individualise the best treatment for you if you have any signs and/or symptoms of dry-mouth.