The feeling of a dry mouth is not just a feeling of discomfort. It is a serious medical condition that should be treated with the right set of products or medicine. Also known as xerostomia, it is a condition when the salivary glands in the mouth don’t produce enough saliva to keep the mouth moist. It can appear as a side effect of taking some medicine, or it might be a result of the radiation therapy for treating cancer. Sometimes, it is a disease that affects the salivary glands directly or, perhaps, it can be the consequence of ageing. So, what can be done to treat this condition that leaves you with a completely unpleasant feeling in the mouth? Let’s investigate.
Why is the feeling of dry mouth so unpleasant?
Saliva is necessary to be able to taste the food and because it facilitates the process of chewing and swallowing. It is extremely significant in preventing tooth decay because it neutralizes the acids and bacteria in the mouth by washing away the food particles. Without saliva, all of this is impossible, and the mouth becomes a nest for bacterial growth. Decreased amount of saliva production can cause severe problems with the general health, oral health and the overall satisfaction of enjoying food.
How do you know if you have dry mouth?
Even though the symptoms are quite obvious, sometimes the person experiencing it might not be able to tell that they are suffering from it. The most typical symptom is dryness in the mouth and the feeling of stickiness. Secondly, the saliva is thick and stringy and causes bad breath. Thirdly, the person will have a hard time chewing, swallowing and speaking and experience a dry or sore throat. Moreover, the tongue will be dry and grooved and, for the elderly, there will be problems to wear dentures. Finally, for women, an indication that the mouth is dry will be the lipstick which will continuously stick to the teeth.
Can dry mouth lead to more complications?
Unfortunately, yes. If it is not treated well, this condition can lead to other health problems such as mouth sores, increased plaque, tooth decay and gum disease, thrush (more familiar as a yeast infection in the mouth), split skin at the corners of the mouth, cracked lips, poor nutrition, etc.
How is it diagnosed?
If you are experiencing the symptoms, it is better to call the doctor and have a check-up. The doctor will do an extensive exam of the mouth, review your medical history and see whether you are currently taking any medication. You might be asked to do a blood test, a scan of the salivary glands or test how much saliva your salivary glands are producing. In cases when the doctor suspects that your salivary glands are the problem, they might perform a biopsy, and a small sample of the cells will be taken to the lab for further examining.
How is it treated?
If the problems come from the medication that you have been taking, you will be prescribed new ones, to replace the ones with ingredients that are causing the symptoms of a dry mouth. Or, if the medicine must remain the same, the doctor might decrease the dosage.
Furthermore, the doctor might advise you to buy some over-the-counter products that will help you moisturise your mouth. Such products are mouth rinses, artificial saliva or lubricants and gel for tooth sensitivity. These products not only will help you treat the problem but also their regular use will help you prevent dry mouth from appearing. ‘
It is very important, though, that you keep your oral hygiene on a high level and protect your teeth from developing tooth decay.
Extra tips for dry mouth prevention
Smoking can really make the condition worse. If you are experiencing dry mouth, it is time to quit this nasty habit. Even though smoking doesn’t cause it, it can only aggravate it and make the symptoms worse and unbearable.
Regular dental check-ups are also on the “to-do list” when wanting to prevent dry mouth. Brushing the teeth at least twice a day and flossing at last once should be a regular routine in combination with regular dental visits.
To boost the saliva production, you can try sucking on sugar-free candy or chewing sugar-free gum and use the over-the-counter products mentioned above. Also, drinking water, about eight glasses a day, will keep your mouth moist. Milk can also help with the moisture and chewing and swallowing. On the other hand, stay away from sugary, acidic or caffeinated drinks. Finally, buy a humidifier for the room so that you can keep the room humidity on a recommended level.