Friday, June 26, 2015

Dry Mouth or Xerostomia

Dry Mouth is a symptom rather than a specific disorder. Saliva cleanses the mouth and begins the digestive process as foods are chewed. Adequate saliva flow coats and lubricates the mouth. When dry mouth or xerostomia occurs, soft tissues get irritated and inflamed and are more susceptible to oral infections. Without the cleansing and shielding effects of adequate salivary flow, tooth decay and periodontal disease become more prevalent.   Constant dryness and lack of protection provided by saliva contribute to bad breath.  In denture wearers, dentures feel less comfortable without the thin film of saliva to help them adhere properly to the mouth.

Causes of Dry Mouth

Prescribed and over the counter medications have emerged as the most common cause of dry mouth.
Medications including  antihistamines, decongestants, pain killers, diuretics, anti hypertensives and anti depressants are among 400 other medications that have side effects of dry mouth.

Aging does minimally reduce the salivary flow.

Radiation of head and neck

Emotional stress 

Autoimmune disease like Sjogren’s  syndrome and diabetes
Hormonal alterations associated with  pregnancy and menopause have been associated with dry mouth.

Symptom Relief

Chewing sugar free gum or candy to stimulate salivation
 Drinking frequent sips of water
Use of alcohol free oral rinses
Restricted use of caffeine, alcohol and carbonated beverages

Regular check- ups and teeth cleaning are more important in mouths experiencing  xerostomia  to minimize decay and periodontal disease.  Additional fluoride products may be recommended to safeguard your dental health.

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