Xerostomia is the clinical term used in dentistry referred to dry mouth.
Our saliva has many important jobs such as:
• Moistens and cleanses our mouth
• Helps digest foods
• Prevents infections in the mouth by controlling bacteria and fungi
When we don’t produce enough saliva, our mouth becomes dry and uncomfortable leading to xerostomia (dry mouth)
Some of the common symptoms of dry mouth include:
• Cracked lips
• Frequent thirst
• Dry feeling in the throat
• Sticky, dry feeling in the mouth
• Dry, red, raw tongue
• Problems with speech, taste, chewing and swallowing
There are many different causes of dry mouth, some are listed below.
- Many prescription & non-prescription drugs can cause dry mouth. Some include drugs to treat, depression, anxiety, asthma, high blood pressure, epilepsy or acne.
• Diseases and infections
- Dry mouth can be a side effect of certain medical conditions, including Sjogren syndrome, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, anaemia, cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, stroke or cancer.
• Nerve Damage
- Injury or surgery to the head and neck area in which there is nerve damage can result in dry mouth.
• Tobacco use
- Smoking or chewing tobacco affects saliva production and provokes dry mouth.
• Mouth breathing
- Breathing with your mouth open can also contribute to the problem.
Dry mouth causes the irritating symptoms mentioned above and it also increases the risk of gingivitis (gum disease), tooth decay and mouth infections such as thrush.
To prevent dry mouth, be sure to drink plenty of fluids during exercise. If the cause of dry mouth is through medications being taken, the doctor may be able to adjust the dose or change the drug to one which doesn’t cause dry mouth. As well as this, the doctor or dentist can prescribe an oral rinse to restore mouth moisture.
Chewing on sugar free gum or sugar free sweets can help improve the flow of saliva. Drinking plenty of water to keep the mouth moist, breathing through the nose and not the mouth as much as possible and using a room vaporizer to moisture the bedroom air, are all ways in which you can prevent or improve the dry mouth condition.
Ian, the Mosman dentist. Dentist Mosman.