Also called xerostomia, dry mouth is something people experience when the production of saliva is either reduced or stops altogether. This ailment is actually more of a symptom of a number of things rather than a sickness in itself. This means that people should take note of the other symptoms accompanying this problem in order to get to the root of such an occurrence.
What causes dry mouth to happen and what are the risks that come with such a problem? Having dry mouth can open you up to a number of oral issues that include yeast infections, tooth decay, and gum disease. Aside from these, you will find that food seems tasteless, which can then affect your appetite, and ultimately, your health.
This can happen due to a number of reasons, which include the following:
Treatments and medications – some medications, as well as some treatments, may cause your salivary glands to reduce the production of saliva, or to stop altogether. Some of the culprits include radiation therapy for neck and head cancers, and medications for depression, allergies, colds, and muscle spasms.
Dehydration – it is rather easy to understand why this particular condition brings about dry mouth since saliva is, after all, a fluid. Lack of fluids can be due to a number of factors, one of which is insufficient intake of water. Loss of body fluids due to diarrhea, vomiting, and excessive sweating can also bring about dehydration, and possibly, xerostomia.
Complication of other ailments – as mentioned earlier, dry mouth can be but one of many symptoms that emerge when a person is sick with specific ailments. Some of the illnesses that may bring about xerostomia include diabetes, cystic fibrosis, hypertension, and HIV, to name a few. Viral infections, like mumps, can also affect the production of saliva, hence the occurrence of xerostomia when a person has this ailment.
Prevention and Treatment
Since dry mouth is a symptom and not a disease, the best possible way to prevent it is to try not to get sick with any of these ailments that bring such a symptom about. Of course, this is easier said than done. While you can try to stay as healthy as you possibly can, when these ailments strike, you have no choice but to simply seek medical help for it.
If your condition is brought about by the use of certain medications, you might want to ask your physician for an alternative to what you are taking, citing the occurrence of dry mouth as your reason for this request. If you are suffering from xerostomia due to other reasons, you can simply try to increase your fluid intake to help make up for the low saliva production. You will also want to talk to your dentist about certain dental treatments they can give you in order to stem the possible occurrence of tooth decay and halitosis that often comes with dry mouth.
Your dentist can give you fluoride treatments to protect your teeth from decay, and advise you to stay away from food and drinks that can exacerbate the situation. These include salty foods, alcohol, caffeinated drinks, and high sugar fare. You will also be told to chew sugarless gum to encourage saliva production, suck on ice chips, and in some cases, to use an OTC saliva substitute.