Dry mouth or xerostomia may be caused by many factors. Everybody should learn what cause xerostomia, its implications and how the condition can be treated. The following section will highlight the main points.
CAUSES OF XEROSTOMIA:
1. Like any other part of the body, salivary glands tend to degenerate with age and result in less amount of saliva.
2. Diabetes Mellitus can result in destruction of small glands, which can include sweat glands, sebaceous glands, as well as small salivary glands. Uncontrolled Diabetes can affect major (Parotid, Submandibular and Sublingual) salivary glands as well.
3. Many autoimmune diseases (e.g., Sjogren’s Syndrome) also result in the destruction of salivary gland tissue.
4. Radiation therapy in the head and neck region for cancer treatment can result in severe cases of xerostomia.
5. Most of the anti-hypertensive medications cause xerostomia.
6. Lack of salivary flow can also result if the salivary gland ducts get occluded due to stone formation or inflammation. This condition, of course, will be accompanied by severe pain and discomfort. The onset can be acute. This kind of situation usually causes pain only when the person eats something. The salivary glands get stimulated, saliva is discharged but cannot get drained. As a result, the pressure builds up and the pain ensues.
1. Excessive dryness of mouth can cause frequent ulceration.
2. It gets very hard to eat even the most simple foods.
3. In the absence of saliva food does not seem palatable.
4. It is very common to see gingivitis due to dehydration of the tissue. These areas look too shiny, and bleed easily upon touching.
5. The lack of self cleansing, i.e., washing effect of saliva will cause increased food particle and plaque retention in the mouth. If left untreated for a long time, these patients can develop severe periodontal disease.
6. Increased plaque retention in turn will result in bad breath (halitosis) and caries formation (decaying of teeth). Elderly people with xerostomia commonly get root surface caries of teeth.
7. The salivary enzymes help in food digestion. Lack of saliva will eliminate the incorporation of those enzymes that can make food easily digestible. Elderly group of people with xerostomia often suffer from nutritional deficiencies.
1. Make a habit of drinking water throughout the day if there is only mild xerostomia .
2. Saliva formation can be stimulated by consuming sour candy or by chewing gums. However, it is wise to use sugar-free products.
3. Doctors can prescribe cholinergic agonists like Pilocarpine to stimulate saliva formation.
4. Severe xerostomia caused by radiation therapy, uncontrolled Diabetes or autoimmune disease, where much of the salivary gland tissue has already been lost, your main option will be to use artificial saliva. Biotene is a product that has become popular for this purpose over the years.
5. Salivary duct obstruction due to inflammation or stones (Sialoliths) will have to be addressed by a physician or a dentist who specializes in Oral Medicine and/or Pathology, or an Oral Surgeon for surgical removal. For any tissue that is surgically removed, it is better to conduct a biopsy test to rule out the possibility of cancer.
a) Whenever you experience xerostomia, you should also use a fluoride fortified mouth rinse like “ACT” to reduce the decaying of teeth. It comes in many different flavors.
b) It becomes imperative to brush and floss religiously as often as possible to maintain good oral hygiene.