Does your mouth feel regularly sticky and parched? This indicates the condition known as Dry Mouth or Xerostomia.
In this condition, your mouth feels dry because it contains less saliva.
Your salivary glands may produce less saliva because of your medical condition or medications.
Saliva helps eliminate bacteria in food and in your mouth from passing down to the digestive system.
If your mouth does not remain wet with saliva then these bacteria can lead to other problems in your body.
This article discusses the symptoms, causes, remedies and treatment for Xerostomia so that you can treat it on time before it leads to other problems.
What Are Dry Mouth Symptoms?
Saliva makes chewing and swallowing easier.
Moreover, it also allows you to speak properly by providing lubrication in the mouth.
This lubrication also prevents the formation of ulcers and sores in the oral tissues because of the strong fictional movement happening in the mouth due to eating, chewing, speaking and swallowing.
Furthermore, it neutralizes the effect of any bacteria present in food before they reach the digestive system.
Moreover, as it keeps your mouth wet and moist it prevents any bad breath.
It also affects the sense of taste as it is a solvent for the stimuli of taste.
Furthermore, it assists digestion which helps the teeth to remineralize.
Hence, when salivary glands release less saliva then it affects all of these functions.
This will become prominent by signs and symptoms such as:
- a dry throat
- sore throat and hoarse voice
- lips cracking
- having difficulty in speaking
- constantly having bad breath
- chewing and swallowing is bothersome
- unable to wear dentures properly
- a dry and rough tongue
- sense of taste changes
- thick saliva
- sticky uncomfortable feeling in the mouth
If you feel any of these symptoms then you should let your doctor know who will try to find out the cause behind your Xerostomia and treat it likewise.
More on that later.
Causes of Dry Mouth At Night and Day
You can get Xerostomia at all times of the day.
It may occur in the night if you keep your mouth open during sleeping and snore.
It may also happen when you breathe by using your mouth.
However, the most common causes are certain medications.
Less saliva production is a side effect of blood pressure medicines, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and anti-depressants.
About 400 medicines, either diuretics, antidepressants, or steroids alongside those written above, can cause it.
Though, it may stop when you switch the drugs or discontinue using them.
Another form of treatment that causes Xerostomia is chemotherapy drugs.
They can decrease the production of saliva and change its nature.
Moreover, if your radiation therapy happens to be in the neck and head area then that can also impact your saliva production.
Both of these are also temporary and saliva levels may come back to normal when your treatment ends.
Similarly, if there is a neck injury, nerve damage or surgery of the head and neck area it can affect your salivary glands.
Recreational drugs like meth and marijuana are also responsible for drying the mouth.
If you are old then you are at risk of developing this condition.
This is due to improper nutrition and taking long-term medicines for disease, and the body’s inability to process medicines.
Your chronic disease and long-term use of those medications can eventually decrease saliva production and cause your mouth to dry out.
Furthermore, if you drink alcohol and generally smoke or use tobacco products then too you are at the risk of developing this condition.
It results from dehydration and hormonal changes happening in the body. You may also get nauseous with it.
It can also occur as a symptom of some other disease or infection.
Hence, you can get Xerostomia because of health conditions, medicines and certain unhealthy habits.
If it worsens then you can get split skin around the corners of your mouth and your lips may crack and have sores too.
Plaque, decay and gum disease may follow.
Also, you could find chewing and swallowing difficult so it will lead to inadequate intake of nutrition and poor eating.
That’s when you should consult your doctor for treatment.
Once you undergo any of these complications, visit your nearby doctor and tell them your symptoms.
Your medical history and symptoms will be enough to diagnose it and determine the cause.
However, they may ask you to get a biopsy of salivary glands from a part of your lips if they suspect the cause to be Sjogren’s syndrome.
Your doctor will then prescribe medicines and treatments that preserve the saliva, substitute it, stimulate it and prevent plaque buildup and cavities.
Stimulate The Saliva
It is important to regulate the saliva levels in your mouth.
They can give you medications such as cevimeline which stimulates saliva production.
Though let your doctor know about your medical conditions beforehand because people with asthma and glaucoma should avoid them.
Hard candies and chewing gums can help release more saliva.
Constantly sucking on hard candies and suck on sugar-free gums can increase saliva production.
Make sure that you take sugar-free chewing gum as normal chewing gum may put you at a greater risk of developing cavities alongside Xerostomia.
Substitutes for Saliva
Mouth rinses and artificial saliva can become a substitute for natural saliva in your mouth.
Your dentist may prescribe mouthwashes and rinses without alcohol that may aggravate the condition.
The oral lubricants should contain glycerin that can help with speech and the action of chewing food.
However, they will not treat the condition but will ease it for you by providing a substitute.
There are other ways such as drinking water and sucking on ice that can act as substitutes. More on that below.
Oral dryness as a result of Xerostomia becomes a breeding ground for plaque and bacteria.
Hence, you can get periodontal disease, tooth loss and fungal infections.
Your dentist may recommend you fluoride treatment.
You fill mouth trays with fluoride and wear them all night.
You should also use toothpaste with fluoride, calcium and phosphate to remineralize teeth.
They may also suggest you get an antimicrobial rinse to reduce the dryness.
Furthermore, if you develop thrust aka yeast infection then they may prescribe an anti-fungal treatment.
These will be topical rinses or tablets.
Dentures also contain fungal infections, so you will have to soak them in 1 percent bleach.
Dry Mouth Remedies
You need to preserve the saliva content in your mouth.
Therefore, you should prevent the mouth from drying out further.
You should avoid the use of caffeine, tobacco and alcohol to decrease any stickiness in your mouth.
These products can also irritate your mouth and aggravate your condition.
Furthermore, try to breathe more with your nose than with your mouth.
If you do so unconsciously at night then you can use humidifiers in the room to moisten the air.
Be careful about the over-the-counter medicine that you consume.
The antihistamines and diuretics and decongestants can worsen your mouth’s condition.
Moreover, you should try to decrease the intake of sugary foods with Xerostomia as this can cause you other dental health problems such as cavities and decay.
Similarly, salty and spicy food may increase irritation inside your mouth.
You can cope up by drinking plenty of water to keep your mouth from drying excessively.
Moisten your oral tissues by consuming water and sugar-free drinks. You can also keep sucking ice.
Furthermore, keep drinking water with your meals as that can aid in swallowing and chewing it along.
Chewing gum also increases the flow of saliva in the mouth.
Especially sugar-free gums contain xylitol which can help from developing cavities.
Also, if you get sores or cracked lips, then applying a lip balm or vaseline can help soothe them.
You need to still visit your dentist regularly twice a year.
If they find out that your medicines are causing this condition then they will ask your doctor to replace them with others if possible.
Also, keep using fluoride rinses and mouthwashes and trays regularly to prevent any onset of cavities.
Xerostomia is extremely uncomfortable but it can either go on its own or by recognizing its cause and eliminating that.
If it is happening because of a disease or infection, then proper treatment will cure it too.
However, if it is because of medicines that you cannot replace then you will have to reach out for coping mechanisms to provide yourself some relief.
That said, regular dental visits can decrease the chance of any complications arising from this condition.
A Dry Mouth can interfere with your ability to chew, speak and swallow.
It also impacts your oral health.
Plus, it has a bad impact on your quality of life and causes discomfort.
Therefore, you should look for permanent treatment or cope with it so that it does not cause discomfort in your daily life.