Dry Mouth or Xerostomia
Aging. A contributing factor, not necessarily a cause.
Salivary Gland Blockage. Usually due to a salivary stone blocking the duct that carries the saliva to the mouth. This normally causes only a partially dry mouth and often the stone is passed down the duct harmlessly. Sometimes however minor oral surgery is required to remove a salivary gland stone.
Poor Chewing. Resulting in a liquid diet which often decreases salivary flow
- Burning sensation of the tongue
- Candida infection
- Cracked, dry lips
- Difficulty eating, especially dry foods
- Difficulty wearing dentures
- Difficulty with speech
- Increased thirst
- Impaired taste
- Without the cleansing effect of saliva, heavy plaque and food accumulation often occurs.
- This may lead to decay and gum disease.
- The chemical makeup of saliva also protects against cavities. Not only does it cleanses tooth surfaces, but it neutralizes acids. Without this neutralization, bacterial acids are free to produce decay.
Saliva is more than just water; it’s actually a fairly complex mixture of electrolytes and organic micro- and macro-molecules. The difficulty of treating dry mouth (xerostomia) lies in the problem of physically replacing between 1 to 2 liters of fluid/ day and in coming up with an alternative to replace each of saliva’s many roles. Some relief can be obtained by following the below recommendations. A sharp increase in the occurrence of decay is often noted in patients with xerostomia; thus it is imperative that only sugar-free products be used.
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco products
- Avoid foods high in sugar
- Chew sugarless gum to stimulate salivary production
- Diabetic sweets and drinks
- Frequent sips of water are the simplest solution. Try to carry a water bottle with you.
- Glycerine mouthrinses
- Use fluoride – toothpaste, gel, or rinse
- Salivary substitutes – there are a number of commercially available products which mimic natural saliva.
- Milk has a lubricating effect.