Dry Mouth Management

The dental term “xerostomia” means dryness of the mouth due to a decreased function of the glands that produce saliva.

What causes dry mouth?

A permanent feeling of dry mouth or decreased saliva flow can be caused by:

Biological ageing – this is a contributing factor, but probably does not cause it.

Systemic diseases such as:

-Rheumatoid conditions (example: Sjogren’s Syndrome)

-Dysfunctional immune system (example: AIDS)

-Hormonal disorders (example: Diabetes)

-Neurological disorders (example: Parkinson’s disease)

Decreased chewing ability resulting in a liquid diet and soft food choice, which tend to decrease the flow of saliva.

Surgical removal of salivary glands.

Dry mouth can also occur as a result of:

Radiation therapy – radiation can cause permanent damage to the salivary glands.

Drugs or medications – over 400 drugs cause dry mouth as a side effect, including:

  • Decongestants
  • Diuretics
  • Antihypertensives
  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines

Signs and symptoms?

If you think you experience oral dryness, here are some common signs and symptoms.

  • Burning sensation of the tongue
  • Difficulty eating, especially dry foods
  • Difficulty with speech
  • Often thirsty
  • Difficulty wearing dentures
  • Dry, cracked lips, and at the corners of the mouth
  • Impaired taste

So what if I have a dry mouth?

Having a decreased flow of saliva has some potentially serious consequences. Heavy plaque and food accumulations tend to occur with dry mouth (xerostomia). This can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

Saliva is your body’s self-cleansing mechanism. It helps remove food, debris, and plaque from the tooth surfaces, which helps protect against oral diseases.

Saliva also protects against cavities. It cleanses your tooth surfaces and neutralises acids thereby protecting teeth from decay. People who have dry mouth are very susceptible to cavities, especially on the roots of their teeth.

How to control dry mouth?

  • Sip water frequently
  • Keep fluids at bedside at night
  • Chew sugarless gum
  • Avoid tobacco, alcohol and foods high in sugar
  • Adjust the air humidity in your home
  • Use a saliva substitute – this is a commercial product which attempts to “wet” the mouth like saliva does.
  • Establish a good plaque control programme because heavy plaque accumulations occur with oral dryness
  • Use fluoride toothpaste, rinse, or gel

Dry mouth (xerostomia) can result in oral discomfort and can have potentially serious consequences. If you feel that you have the symptoms please see us at Australia Dental Burpengary.