Several treatment options are available that help to get rid of xerostomia or dry mouth syndrome. These include the use of mouth sprays, dry mouth patches, as well as medication.
Constant lack of saliva in the mouth makes one suffer from dental problems, and also makes food less palatable. This condition of constant lack of saliva is called dry mouth syndrome or xerostomia. It leads to dental decay owing to less volume of saliva, that has antibiotic enzymes essential to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria feeding on food and plaque stuck to your teeth. Apart from dental problems, it becomes difficult to swallow food. Digestion gets affected due to the lack of enzymes that are present in saliva. Let us have a look at some treatment options, as well as the causes and symptoms in short.
One of the main causes is medicines, especially high blood pressure medication, antidiarrheals, decongestants, depression and anxiety medication, muscle relaxants, etc. Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy also suffer from dry mouth, as radiation treatments may affect their salivary glands. Other causes include aging, diabetes, Sjogren’s syndrome, HIV/AIDS, stroke, smoking, chewing tobacco, snoring, and breathing through the mouth.
Dry mouth and tongue may be associated with signs and symptoms like:
- Sores and skin splitting on the corners of the mouth
- Cracked lips
- Thickening of saliva
- Bad breath
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Difficulty in speaking
- Increase in tooth decay, gum diseases and plaque
- Decrease in the sense of taste
- Sore throat
- Fungal infection in the mouth
How to Treat Xerostomia
The treatment depends on controlling the underlying causes. As we already know, medications are one of the main causes. Thus, the doctor may change or alter the medications prescribed to reduce the symptoms. Sometimes, a change in dosage also helps.
Treatment options for xerostomia also include artificial saliva spray. This helps in stimulating the salivary glands to secrete more saliva. Use of a humidifier is useful for those who snore and/or breathe through their mouth. You should avoid smoking or chewing tobacco, if that is the etiology in your case.
Brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste or use of fluoride-containing mouthwash will help in decreasing tooth decay. Avoiding the use of nasal decongestants and antihistamines may also be recommended. You should drink plenty of water to keep your mouth moist. Chew or suck on sugar-free candy or sugar-free gum. This will help in stimulating the salivary glands to release saliva, and keep you free from bad breath. Dried fruit slices, ice cubes, etc., also help to keep the mouth moist.
Several products like dry mouth patch, sprays, gels, moisturizing liquid, and lozenges, help in the prevention and reduction of xerostomia.
Apart from these products, there are many drugs that help in reduction of the symptoms. These include pilocarpine and cevimeline. They are helpful in stimulating the nervous system, which in turn stimulates the salivary glands to secrete more saliva. These drugs are also found to be useful in decreasing the dry mouth syndrome in cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy.
You should speak to your doctor regarding the treatment option suitable for you. This condition is easily treatable and avoidable. Keep yourself hydrated at all times, and visit a dentist to prevent tooth problems.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.