Dry mouth syndrome is that dry, annoying feeling in your mouth due to the decrease of saliva and it can be temporary or chronic. It is also known as, believe it or not, xerostomia. No, don’t try to pronounce it – doing that alone could cause your mouth to be dry. The number of people who suffer from dry mouth is not known but we probably all have it at one time or another and it is more prevalent among older adults.
Why is saliva so important for us? Well, it is made up of approximately 99% water and the rest consists of lubricants that help to fight infection along with enzymes and proteins that assist in food digestion. Believe it or not, healthy adults actually produce about three pints of saliva a day!
So it should come as no surprise that dry mouth syndrome does more than make your mouth feel dry and awful. The lack of it also causes the soft tissues in your mouth to become inflamed and irritated which then makes them more vulnerable to infections. And without the saliva to wash away food particles and neutralize acids produced by plaque, your teeth are much more at risk of cavities and tooth decay.
Dry mouth causes resulting in salivary glands not functioning properly:
Dry Mouth Syndrome Medications:
These include over 400 prescription and over-the-counter ones such as
antihistamines and decongestants, antidepressants, pain killers and diuretics. Also
included are high blood pressure medications, muscle relaxants and medications for
Parkinson’s disease as well as some cancer therapies which include chemotherapy and
Dry Mouth Syndrome Medical Conditions:
Some of these are Sjogren’s Syndrome (a disease that affects the moisture-producing glands), diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke.
Dry Mouth Syndrome Emotional Stress and Anxiety:
You may very well experience dry mouth syndrome when you are under stress or anxious and can also experience it due to hormone changes from pregnancy or
Other Causes of Dry Mouth Syndrome:
You can also have dry mouth syndrome as a result of snoring or breathing through your mouth.
The above is not a complete list of causes for dry mouth syndrome but will give you some insight into it and remind you to make your dentist aware of any medications you are taking, any treatments you are having or any stress you are under.
Signs and Symptoms of Dry Mouth Syndrome
Listed below are some of the signs and symptoms of dry mouth syndrome and if you experience any of them, you should inform your dentist about them. Remember, these are only a few of the symptoms to be aware of so it is important to have regular checkups twice a year and inform your dentist about your overall health.
- A dry, sticky feeling in the mouth or throat
- Not enough saliva
- Saliva that feels thick or is stringy
- A rough, dry tongue
- Sore throat
- Bad breath
- A problem with swallowing, chewing or talking
- Cracked lips, sores or split skin at corners of mouth
- A burning sensation in the mouth (burning tongue)
- Altered sense of taste
- An infection in the mouth
Dry Mouth Syndrome Treatments
Now for some information on dry mouth syndrome treatments and this is very important as some possible complications of dry mouth are cavities, irritation and infection. Depending on the severity of it, your dentist may refer you to a specialist, such as a periodontist but if it is not severe, following are some treatments that your dentist may recommend:
- Sugar-free candy, sugar-free gum or gum specially made to stimulate saliva flow
- Specially formulated oral rinses
- Artificial saliva (saliva substitute)
- More fluids (frequent sips of water, sucking ice chips)
- Oral moisturizers (sprays or gels)
- Oral prescription medications
Things To Avoid If You Have Dry Mouth
Some things you should try to avoid if you have dry mouth are:
- Carbonated drinks (limited use)
- Caffeine (limited use)
- Alcohol (limited use)