Dry mouth, medically known as xerostomia, happens when the salivary glands do not work correctly and cannot produce enough saliva to maintain an optimal humidity level in the oral cavity. When this situation occurs continuously, it is essential to go to the doctor to know the causative factor and receive the appropriate treatment. It can lead to problems in actions as simple as chewing, swallowing, or speaking. In addition to this, the risk of suffering from oral infections and developing gingival and dental problems increases since there is not an adequate amount of saliva to keep the teeth protected and control the proliferation of microorganisms in the mouth. At FastlyHealwe, explain the dry mouth’s causes, symptoms, and treatments; pay attention!
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Causes of dry mouth
Dry mouth occurs when the glands in the mouth responsible for the production of saliva do not function properly, something that can happen promptly due to specific and temporary factors or persist and become a recurring condition, severely affecting the patient’s oral health. The continuous dryness in the oral cavity irritates the soft tissues of the same and, therefore, makes them much more vulnerable to possible infections, dental conditions, inflammations, and, in addition, contributes to the appearance of bad breath.
The causes of dry mouth are very diverse, but among the most frequent, we find the following:
- Insufficient fluid intake or fluid loss due to diarrhea, vomiting, or excessive sweating.
- Having stress, anxiety, or depression affects the nervous system, which affects the function of specific organs and glands in the body, including the glands that make saliva.
- Consumption of certain medications can alter saliva production and cause dry mouths, such as antidepressants, antihistamines, antihypertensives, and diuretics.
- Radiation therapy and chemotherapy: When the salivary glands are exposed to radiation in treatments for tumors in the neck or head area, they can be damaged. Likewise, the drugs administered during chemotherapy cause the saliva to thicken and appear a sensation of dry mouth.
- Difficulty breathing through the nose due to a cold causes the person to breathe through the mouth.
- Diseases of the salivary glands can affect them, such as Sjörgen’s syndrome, HIV, diabetes, etc.
- The lack of teeth causes a reduction of stimuli in the mouth, which leads to the production of saliva being considerably reduced.
- Alterations in saliva production result from an inadequate diet rich in carbohydrates and low in vegetables and fruits.
- The consumption of alcoholic beverages and tobacco also accentuates the decrease in salivary production.
As we have pointed out previously, some people suffer from dry mouth or xerostomia in an interrupted way, while others suffer it constantly. Therefore, it is possible to distinguish between two types:
- Reversible xerostomia: the causative factor can be treated or corrected, and the patient recovers the fluidity of his salivary flow. It is usually caused by drugs, smoking, low fluid consumption, etc.
- Irreversible xerostomia: irreparable damage to the salivary glands is observed. It is generally associated with disorders such as Sjörgen’s syndrome or chemotherapy treatments or with high doses of radiation in patients with tumors in the head or neck.
Symptoms of dry mouth
The lack of salivary flow in the oral cavity causes the affected person to experience the symptoms detailed below:
- Dry and sticky mouthfeel.
- Very doughy mouth when waking up.
- Thicker and more viscous saliva.
- Discomfort in the mouth or tongue, as well as a burning sensation.
- Drier, rougher, and rougher tongue.
- More cracks in the lips or the corners of these.
In addition to these symptoms, dry mouth is a clinical situation that can lead to severe problems for the patient in the long run and cause problems in chewing, swallowing, and phonation. Likewise, there is a greater risk of infections when the saliva is insufficient. One is more prone to suffer from sores and canker sores, oral candidiasis, and other conditions caused by microorganisms, cavities, and periodontal diseases.
Treatment of dry mouth
Faced with the sensation of recurrent and continuous dry mouth, it is essential to go to the doctor for an accurate diagnosis. The treatment of dry mouth will depend mainly on the underlying cause in each case, so it is essential to determine what is the original factor of the problem. It is possible that if it is a condition caused by the consumption of certain drugs, the doctor will make changes in the treatment or carry out a readjustment of the dose.
In other cases, taking a medication that encourages saliva production and stimulates the functioning of the salivary glands may be prescribed.
In addition to the particular medical treatment, there are some recommended measures in case of dry mouth, which can help relieve symptoms and increase salivary flow. These are the following:
- Drink plenty of water during the day (between 1.5 and 2 liters) and healthy liquids, such as fruit juices and herbal teas, to keep yourself well hydrated and avoid a dry mouth sensation.
- Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages, such as coffee or tea and soda.
- Avoid the intake of alcoholic beverages and tobacco.
- Increase in the diet the consumption of foods with a high percentage of water and fresh, such as vegetables and fruits.
- Keep your mouth moist by rinsing with water and salt several times daily.
- Apply a moisturizing gel or spray to the mouth and tongue, especially to combat dryness in the oral cavity.
- Avoid dry lips by making frequent use of lip balms.
- Stimulate salivary flow by chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free candy.
- Place a humidifier in the room to maintain humidity and prevent the mouth from becoming excessively dry.
Oral hygiene essential in case of dry mouth
As we have pointed out, when the oral cavity does not have sufficient salivary flow, the teeth are more unprotected, and there is a greater risk of developing cavities, periodontal diseases, and infections; This is why it is so important to take extreme precautions and reinforce oral hygiene habits. Thus, it will be essential:
- Brush your teeth after every meal with a soft bristle brush.
- If you eat sugary or sticky foods, brush your teeth right after finishing.
- Floss gently for a more thorough cleaning.
- Rinse the mouth with specific and soft mouthwashes for dry mouth; it can be 4 to 6 times a day. Avoid those aggressive mouthwashes that contain alcohol in their composition.
- Visit the dentist periodically, carrying out a thorough review every six months and a professional cleaning when the specialist indicates it.
This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any condition or discomfort.
If you want to read more articles similar to Dry mouth: causes, symptoms, and treatment , we recommend that you enter our Teeth and mouth category .
I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.