Dry mouth symptoms, causes and what you can do about it.
Dry mouth is more common than you might think. the technical term for dry mouth is Xerostomia (zeer-o-stoe-me-uh).
Xerostomia is not a a disease but rather a symptom caused by the salivary glands not producing enough saliva. Dry mouth can occur as you age, while taking certain medications or as a result of cancer treatments. Lack of proper hydration is the most common reason for dry mouth.
Saliva helps your mouth to stay hydrated. It also helps prevent tooth decay by neutralizing acids produced by bacteria which in turn limits the growth of unwanted bacteria and washes away food particles. Saliva enhances your ability to taste and helps with chewing and swallowing food. Finally, enzymes in saliva assist in the digestive process.
Dry mouth can range from very minor to very severe, especially while taking medication. In severe cases dry mouth could have a major impact on your oral health and affect your appetite and enjoyment of food. Treatment of Dry Mouth depends on the cause.
causes of Dry Mouth include
- Alcohol, caffeine and tobacco cause dryness and irritation
- Mouthwash containing alcohol
- Sugary foods and candies increase the risk of tooth decay and also cause dry mouth
- Salty or spicy foods
- Over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants can worsen a dry mouth.
what you can do about it
- It is best to sip water regularly. Another option is to suck on ice chips throughout the day to help moisten your mouth. Drink water when you eat.
- Choose sugar – free gum or sugar -free hard candies. Look for products that contain xylitol – it may help prevent cavities.
- Remember to breathe though your nose, not your mouth. If dry mouth occurs during sleep you may need to seek treatment for snoring. Consult your physician.
- Use a humidifier to add moisture to your room.
- You can try over the counter saliva substitutes that contain xylitol. Some of these products are Biotene oral balance moisturizing gel, Mouth kote oral moisturizer or Oasis moisturizing mouth spray, which contain carboxymethylcellulose or hydroxyethyl cellulose to help saliva production.