Xerostomia – Basic Information
Xerostomia means dry mouth which occurs due to lack of production of saliva. Saliva is very important for us, and it helps in the digestive process. So, saliva plays a significant role in the functioning of our body.
The improper functioning of salivary glands usually causes it. Salivary glands produce less saliva, and thus makes the mouth dry.
Causes of Xerostomia
There are many reasons which cause this situation. Some reasons behind the presence of this situation are as follows:
- Age: Dry mouth is not a problem, which moves in parallel with age, but it usually occurs in old individuals, because of some medicines old people take or due to various diseases which old people generally have.
- Medicines: There are many medicines which cause dry mouth problems. Some antidepressants, antihistamines, blood pressure medicines, and many other medications cause xerostomia.
- Cancer therapies: Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy both affects salivary glands and causes dry mouth problems.
- Dehydration: Due to lack of vital fluids, Xerostomia is caused.
- Tobacco: Chewing and smoking weed can cause Xerostomia.
- Excessive exercise and playing, especially in heat may cause dry mouth problems.
- Damage to the neck or head nerve due to some trauma or surgery may cause Xerostomia.
- Anxiety, depression, Parkinson’s disease, snoring and few other such illnesses can cause Xerostomia.
Symptoms of Xerostomia
There are some very observable symptoms of Xerostomia. Most of them are listed below:
- Bad smelling breath
- Excessive dryness in the mouth
- Problem with taste
- Frequent drying of mouth, especially during night time.
- Pain in the tongue
- Gum problems
- Tongue inflammation
- Saliva becomes lumpy
- Infection in the salivary glands
- Sticky and dry mouth, which causes issues in wearing dentures
- Problem while talking
- Teeth problems
- Problem in crying
- Lack of tear production
- The decrease in the production of other glands
- No proper vision
Prevention of Xerostomia
Prevention of dry mouth is done merely by lubricating it. Some of the therapeutic methods are as follows:
- Avoid substances which have too much sugar
- Avoid alcohol in, even if present in mouthwashes
- Carrots consumption is useful
- Saliva substitutes are also a good option to try
- While sleeping, avoid wearing dentures
- Try ways to stop snoring
- Presence of some humidity in the room while sleeping is useful, this can be done by using humidifiers
- Avoid tobacco consumption
- Nothing in excess is right, be it dry food or sugary drink or excessively hot or cold food
- Caffeine consumption in excess is also responsible for this, and it too should be avoided
Treatment of Xerostomia
These days there is barely anything whose treatment is not possible, and if it’s treatment is not possible then there will be some method to avoid that situation for a while. But, in the case of Xerostomia, we are lucky that many preventive ways are possible. If the doctor comes to know about the primary reason behind this problem, then it becomes easy for him to treat this problem. Some methods are:
- Medicines: Sometimes, some medications cause dry mouth problem. If it is a problem, then doctors usually try to prescribe some other drug in place of the one which is causing the problem.
- Saliva stimulating medications
- Maintaining oral and dental hygiene; This includes everything from brushing till regularly visiting the doctor.
When a patient’s complaints about dry mouth problem, then the doctor examines the patient through some of these methods:
- Sialometry: In this method, citric acid is used, as it is instrumental in saliva production and the rate of flow of saliva is checked by collecting the saliva through salivary glands opening with the help of some devices used for collection.
- Sialography: In this method, salivary glands are checked using the radiographic process.
- Biopsy: A small tissue is taken for examination, to check from the concerned part, for testing if there is some doubt of cancer.
Dry mouth or Xerostomia is a significant problem, which needs proper attention and treatment. Sometimes, Xerostomia can be an indication of some underlying disease, which may even affect the entire body. Dr. Paul Kim, a Torrance Dentist, considers this problem not worthy of ignorance. There are many doctors’ worldwide, providing help for curing such problems.