Dry mouth can be caused by many things. The following article provides information about the causes and symptoms, along with the various methods that can help treat the same.
Dryness of the mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a condition which affects almost a third of the adult population in America. Xerostomia occurs when the salivary glands produce less than the normal amount of saliva. Due to this condition, a person becomes susceptible to gum disease, halitosis, and sometimes even tooth decay. Following are the symptoms and causes, followed by the treatment methods that help in overcoming this condition.
Symptoms of xerostomia include increased thirst, pain in the mouth and the tongue, redness on the tongue accompanied by mouth ulcers, mouth sores or sores on the lips, difficulty while eating and speaking, hoarse voice, bad breath, yeast infections in the mouth, and a decreased sense of taste.
Excess consumption of alcohol, tea, and coffee decreases the amount of saliva produced by the salivary glands, thereby causing dryness of the mouth. Chewing or smoking tobacco could also be a contributing factor.
Diseases such as diabetes, anemia, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease can cause xerostomia, even though the salivary glands might be functioning normally. Anxiety and depression can also directly affect the salivary glands and cause dryness of the mouth.
Many medications, especially painkillers and antidepressants, are known to cause xerostomia as a side effect. Cancer treatments can affect the salivary glands too, resulting in decreased production of saliva and hence causing dryness of the mouth.
An injury or surgery that causes nerve damage to the head and neck area could affect the salivary glands and lead to this condition.
Although old age does not cause xerostomia, older people are more likely to take medications or have health disorders, that may lead to this condition.
To decide on any one treatment for this disorder is not possible, as this condition could be due to a number of reasons. Thus, the first step is to ascertain the condition which has caused it in the first place.
- If the dryness is experienced due to consumption of alcohol or chewing of tobacco, the best treatment would be to discontinue these substances with immediate effect.
- If the dryness is caused by certain diseases, it would involve treating and curing the underlying disease first, which will automatically reduce the dryness of the mouth.
- If the dryness is caused by certain medicines, the person should consult the doctor for an alternative medicine.
- Dryness caused due to depression can be treated by following various relaxation techniques such as yoga, reiki, and breathing exercises. These will reduce the anxiety and also the resultant dry mouth.
- Sipping water or juices at frequent intervals, especially while consuming food will help keep the mouth moistened at all times, thereby preventing xerostomia.
- Consumption of foods that require mastication, help in stimulating the production of saliva. Examples of such foods are carrots, celery, apples, meats, breads, and chewing gums.
- There are various drugs that aid in increasing the saliva flow. Drugs such as pilocarpine and cevimeline decrease the oral dryness in a person by stimulating and increasing the flow of saliva.
Besides the aforementioned methods, maintaining dental health by taking care of oral hygiene is very important too. Brushing teeth twice a day, regular flossing, and using a mouth wash before sleeping helps in preventing dryness of the mouth.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.