Dry mouth: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Dry mouth or xerostomia is a condition in which salivary glands in mouth do not produce enough saliva to keep the mouth moist & wet. Salvia helps to moisten and cleanses the mouth, maintain good dental health, and also help in food digestion. Moreover, salvia also controls bacteria and fungi in the mouth thus prevent infections. Occasionally having a dry mouth if you are nervous, upset or dehydrated is normal. However, a persistently dry mouth can be an indication of an underlying problem. canton urgent care

Xerostomia is common mostly in the adult population. Dry mouth can make it difficult to chew food, swallow and speak plainly. Dry mouth on its own is not a serious medical condition. But sometimes it can be a sign of an underlying problem that need treatment.

Causes:

Sometimes dry mouth can be caused by an underlying medical condition. The possible causes include:

Medications:

Many medicines can cause dry mouth. These medicines include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines
  • Decongestants
  • Hypertensive medications
  • Muscle relaxants

Age:

Although aging is not the natural cause of dry mouth but mostly older people take more medications as compared to others. So many of the medications taken by them can leads to dry mouth.

Blocked nose:

While sleeping breathing through the mouth due to the blocked nose can cause dry mouth.

Radiotherapy:

Radiotherapy to the head and neck can destruct the salivary glands as a result less salvia is produced.

Tobacco:

Smoking or chewing tobacco can also increase the risk of dry mouth.

Some other health conditions and habits that cause dry mouth are:

  • Depression
  • Snoring
  • Sleeping with open mouth
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Diabetes

Symptoms:

Sign and symptoms of dry mouth include:

  • Bad breath
  • Frequent thirst
  • Sore throat
  • Dry feeling in the throat
  • Dry and red tongue
  • Sticky salvia
  • Problems speaking
  • Trouble tasting, chewing

Complications:

Lack of saliva and dry mouth can lead to further complications such as:

  • Mouth sores
  • Increased plaque
  • Tooth decay
  • Gum disease
  • Mouth’s yeast infection
  • Cracked lips

Diagnosis:

Diagnosis of xerostomia involves:

  • Physical examination: a doctor can examine the symptoms like the inner cheeks looks dry and rough.
  • Tooth examination: the dentist may check the tooth decay’s pattern.
  • Salvia tests: a typical salvia test includes rolling out of lower lip and mops it to dry. Usually, salvia should make the lower lip moist within a half minute.
  • Medical history: the doctor often asks for medical history to check for disease or medicines that can lead to dry mouth.

Treatment:

The treatment mainly depends upon the cause of the problem. The treatments options include:

Changes to medicines:

The doctor will determine the actual cause and then treatment. If dry mouth is caused by medicines as a side effect the doctor may prescribe the alternative medicine or can adjust the dosage.

Salvia substitutes:

The dentist or doctor can recommend an artificial salvia substitute which can be used according to directions.

Dry mouth products:

These products consist of lubricants that help to treat dry mouth. These products include;

  • Mouthwash
  • Toothpaste
  • Topical gels
  • Gums

Antibiotics:

Antibiotic and anti-fungal drugs are used to treat infection to prevent dry mouth.

Surgery:

Salivary gland blockages are usually removed with surgery.

Dry mouth comfort tips:

Be guided by your doctor or dentist but some self-care tips may also help are:

  • Brush your teeth at least 2 times a day (use prescribed toothpaste).
  • Use fluoride products regularly.
  • Use an air humidifier in the room.
  • Treat dry lips with greasy lip balm.
  • Breathe through the nose.
  • Add extra liquid to foods.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco.
  • Chewing sugarless gum.

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