Dry mouth symptoms, causes and what you can do about it.
Dry mouth is more common than you might think. Dry mouth is also called Xerostomia (zeer-o-stoe-me-uh).
Symptoms of dry mouth
Xerostomia is not a disease but rather a symptom caused by the salivary glands not producing enough saliva. Mouth dryness can occur as you age, while taking certain medications or as a result of radiation therapy. 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.
Dryness of your 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, affect the health of teeth and gums, lead to gum disease and affect your appetite and enjoyment of food. Treatment of Dry Mouth depends on the cause.
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, so avoiding at least some of those can help with dryness.
Mouthwash containing alcohol can be another reason for overly dry mouth. Try mouthwash without alcohol or have a glass of water right after.
Sugary foods and candies increase the risk of tooth decay and also cause dry mouth. Power drink like Gatorade, fruit juices and pop all have high sugar content, so best switching to fresh water.
Salty or spicy foods can cause your mouth to become dry.
Over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants can worsen a dry mouth.
Prescription medications also cause dry mouth symptoms.
What you can do about dry mouth?
It is best to sip water regularly. Another option is to suck on ice chips throughout the day to help keep the mouth moist and avoid cracked lips. 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 and increase salivary flow.
Remember to breathe through your nose, not your mouth. If xerostomia 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 to help stimulate saliva. 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.
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