Xerostomia – The What, Who, and How

If your mouth is extremely dry feeling, you may be suffering from xerostomia.

The What

What is xerostomia? Xerostomia is the medical term for dry mouth, which means you do not have enough saliva to keep your mouth wet and moisturized. Occasional dry mouth is very common, but it can be more serious if it occurs frequently. Xerostomia can make it difficult to speak, eat, and digest food. This is because salvia helps digest food, protects teeth from decay, prevents infection by controlling bacteria in the mouth, and makes it possible for you to chew and swallow. Severe cases of xerostomia may cause significant anxiety and permanent mouth and throat disorders.

The Who

Who is affected by xerostomia? Dry mouth affects about 10% of all people and tends to be more prevalent in women than men. Disorders of saliva production affect elderly people and those who are taking medications most frequently. It occurs when the salivary glands are not properly functioning. In addition to aging and frequent consumption of medications, nervousness, stress, cancer therapy, autoimmune disorders, smoking, and methamphetamine use can all contribute to dry mouth.

The How

How can you deal with xerostomia? Treatment for your dry mouth will depend partly on the cause. We always recommend seeing your dentist right away if you think you are suffering from xerostomia. Seeing your dentist regularly can help identify the cause of dry mouth because it will keep your record up to date. Be sure to inform your dentist of any medications you are taking as well as any other information or changes in your health. Some tips to ease the symptoms of dry mouth include:

  • Drinking lots of water
  • Sugar-free gum, which causes saliva to flow
  • Avoiding tobacco or alcohol
  • Avoiding caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea, and soda
  • Using a humidifier at night
  • If your dry mouth is caused by a certain medication, your doctor may change your prescription

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