Dry mouth refers to a condition in which the salivary glands in your mouth don't make enough saliva to keep your mouth wet. Dry mouth is often due to the side effect of certain medications or ageing issues or as a result of radiation therapy for cancer. Less often, dry mouth may be caused by a condition that directly affects the salivary glands.
Saliva helps prevent tooth decay by neutralizing acids produced by bacteria, limiting bacterial growth and washing away food particles. Saliva also enhances your ability to taste and makes it easier to chew and swallow. In addition, enzymes in saliva aids in digestion.
Decreased saliva and dry mouth can range from being merely a nuisance to something that has a major impact on your general health and the health of your teeth and gums, as well as your appetite and enjoyment of food.
Signs and Symptoms:
• Sensation of dryness in mouth or throat, and saliva that seems thick and stringy.
• Difficulty chewing, speaking and swallowing
• Alterations in sense of taste
• Discomfort when wearing dentures
• Frequent occurrences of tooth decay/dental caries
• Gum irritation and periodontal disease
• Dry or grooved tongue
• Mouth sores, dryness, cracked lips.
Dry mouth is caused when the salivary glands in the mouth don't make enough saliva to keep your mouth wet. These glands may not work properly as the result of:
- Medications like antiepileptics, anticholinergics
- Ageing nerve damage
- Other health conditions like Cancer, HIV Infections, etc.
- Tobacco and Alcohol Use
- Recreational Drug Use
Treatment is indicated according to the cause. Various treatment modalities are:
1. Change medications that cause dry mouth.
2. Recommend products to moisturize your mouth.
3. Prescribe medication that stimulates saliva production.
4. Protect your teeth by regular check-ups.
5. Sip water frequently and keep yourself hydrated.
6. Chew sugar-free gums.
7. Breathe through your nose, not your mouth.
8. Try over-the-counter saliva substitutes.