Dryness of Mouth – How can You Avoid it

2 min


Xerostomia is a condition causing dryness of the mouth with reduced or decreased salivary flow affecting mostly adults above 40 years or more.

Women are commonly affected than men. The absence of saliva makes the oral cavity vulnerable for various associated conditions like taste impairment, difficulty in swallowing food, bad breath, food accumulation, plaque accumulation, change in pH of the oral cavity, recurrent ulceration, etc.

Approximately our body gives 1 liter/day as the daily salivary output.

The flow of saliva can be either stimulated or unstimulated. Triggers to stimulate salivary flow are smell or taste of food, hunger, chewing the food / when using chewing gums that promote saliva flow.

CAUSES FOR DRY MOUTH:

  • Medications
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Diabetes type 1 or 2
  • Radiation therapy
  • Absence of the salivary gland or duct obstruction
  • Stress
  • Smoking / smokeless tobacco
  • Alcohol

MEDICATION / DRUG INDUCED DRY MOUTH:

Studies proclaim that 10% reduction in saliva secretion is drug-induced Hyposalivation (decreased saliva flow).

The risk of Xerostomia due to medicines increases with the number of drugs consumed over a period of time.

Older people are mostly affected as they consume medications. The prime symptoms present as difficulty in chewing and swallowing followed by indigestion.

The drugs mostly reported with signs of Xerostomia are antidepressant (depression / stress reliever), antihypertensive (hypertension), diuretics (to treat renal disorders), sedative, anxiolytic, pain relievers, muscle relaxant, bronchodilators (to treat wheezing / asthma), smoke cessation drugs and anticonvulsant (to treat seizure).

SJOGREN’S SYNDROME:

It is an autoimmune disorder in which our body’s immune cells attack their own cells that are responsible for the production of tears and saliva.

The characteristic signs are dry eyes & dry mouth. The condition is often associated with other conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus lesions, etc.

The women are mostly targeted after the age of 40 years affecting mostly the saliva secretion from the minor salivary glands.

DIABETES:

The poor glycemic control is directly proportional to the decrease in the saliva flow leading to dryness of the mouth and Xerostomia.

A diabetic poses a sticky or dry oral mucosa and it can be detected at the dentist’s office by a mouth mirror used to examine the oral cavity which sticks to the mucosa.

RADIATION THERAPY:

Cancer of the head and neck region is treated with radiation therapy causing the atrophy (decrease in the cell count) of the secretor components of the salivary gland causing a decrease in the flow or no flow at all.

It leads to a temporary Xerostomia or permanent Xerostomia.

ABSENCE OF SALIVARY GLAND OR DUCT OBSTRUCTION:

 Loss of salivary gland by birth, surgical removal of the salivary gland, cancer of the salivary gland or obstruction of the duct that brings saliva from gland to the oral cavity due to salivary stone formation.

In any of the above-mentioned conditions severe to moderate forms of Xerostomia are observed.

STRESS:

Emotional or physical stress might cause Xerostomia.

It lasts only for a shorter duration as it is reversible to normal conditions with the removal of the stress or treatment.

USE OF TOBACCO PRODUCTS & ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION:

Use of tobacco products either smoke or smokeless affects the oral cavity.

The heat produced and the carcinogenic components cause dryness of the oral cavity over a short term use.

Alcohol consumption causes dehydration of the oral cavity and shrinkage of the cells. Thus frequenting both the habits causes Xerostomia.

TREATMENT OF DRY MOUTH:

  • Consult your physician.
  • Stay hydrated always.
  • Keep note of any changes if your physician changes any medication.
  • Have frequent dental check-ups.
  • Use sugar-free chewing gums to promote saliva flow.
  • Quit the habit of smoking with guidance.

REFERENCE:


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Dr Arun

Dr. Arun is a practicing dentist with more than 11 years of experience. Loves to blog and in constant search of new knowledge in dentistry and health niche.

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