When you open your mouth, what do you see? You see your tongue, gums and teeth, right? And because you value your oral health, you take care of these parts the best way that you can. But did you know that there's another part of the mouth that you don't really get to see that much that is just as important? This is none other than the saliva. The saliva is indeed more vital than you think.
Xerostomia (Dry Mouth)
Saliva works to moisten and cleanse the mouth. It also serves to digest and break down the food that you consume. Additionally, saliva neutralizes acids and prevents infection by keeping fungi and bacteria inside the mouth controlled. When the mouth doesn't produce enough saliva, the mouth can get dry and feel uncomfortable. This condition is called xerostomia.
What Causes Xerostomia?
Xerostomia has several causes.
One cause is taking in of certain medications. Dry mouth can be a common side effect of various prescription and nonprescription drugs.
Drugs used for the treatment of following conditions can result in dry moutn:
- Parkinson's disease
Cause: Diseases and Infections
Xerostomia can also be a side effect of some diseases and infections.
- cystic fibrosis
- Sjögren's syndrome
- Alzheimer's disease
- Parkinson's disease
- rheumatoid arthritis
Cause: Medical Treatments
It can also be brought about by some medical treatments.
- damaged salivary glands:
Radiation to the head and neck and chemotherapy can damage the salivary glands that produce saliva. The result is dry mouth.
- surgical removal of salivary glands:
Moreover, surgical removal of the salivary glands always results in dry mouth.
Dry mouth can also be a sign of:
- nerve damage
- poor lifestyle habits such as smoking
What are the Symptoms of Dry Mouth?
Common symptoms of dry mouth are:
- bad breath
- sore throat
- mouth sores
- cracked lips
- frequent thirst
- problem speaking
- dry nasal passages
- dry red and raw tongue
- dry feeling in the throat
- sticky dry feeling inside the mouth
- split skin at the corners of the mouth
- difficulty in tasting, chewing and swallowing
- burning or tingling sensation in the mouth particularly on the tongue
What are the Effects of having Dry Mouth?
Apart from the symptoms mentioned above, this condition can also increase the risk of various dental problems such as:
- tooth decay
- gingivitis or gum disease
- mouth infections like thrush
- denture issue:
It can also make it a struggle to wear dentures.
How is this condition Treated?
Treatment depends on the cause of the dry mouth.
If it's due to a certain medication you're taking, it would be a smart move to talk to your doctor about it and ask if the medication can be replaced with something that doesn't cause this condition. The doctor may also opt to adjust the dosage.
- underlying medical condition
It's also vital to get treatment for the underlying medical condition that brings dry mouth.
- improving dental hygiene
You can also improve saliva flow with sugar-free candy or gum, drinking plenty of water, brushing with fluoride toothpaste or rinsing with fluoride mouthwash, and visiting your dentist regularly.