What is Dry mouth?
We all need saliva to moisten and cleanse our mouths and digest food. Our swallow can be hugely affected by how much saliva we produce. Saliva also prevents infection by controlling bacteria and fungi in the mouth. The condition in which the salivary glands in your mouth don’t produce enough saliva to keep your mouth moist is called dry mouth or Xerostomia.
What are the causes?
Side effects of certain medications
Almost all medications have some side effects, and the most common side effect of medication is dry mouth
It can be a common side effect of both prescription and non-prescription drugs, including drugs used to treat pain, depression, anxiety, allergies, and colds (antihistamines and decongestants), epilepsy, hypertension (diuretics), diarrhea, nausea, urinary incontinence, asthma (certain bronchodilators), and Parkinson’s disease and many more. It can also be a side effect of muscle relaxants and sedatives
Side effects of certain medical conditions
Dry mouth can be a side effect of medical conditions, including, Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, diabetes, anemia, cystic fibrosis, and mumps.
Side effects of certain medical treatments
Medical treatments – we would see a high prevalence of dry mouth with patients recovering from cancer treatments where the salivary glands have been affected by the treatment
Damage to the salivary glands through radiation or chemotherapy can reduce the amount of saliva produced.
Dry mouth can be a result of nerve damage to the head and neck area from an injury or surgery.
Conditions that lead to dehydration, such as fever, excessive sweating, vomiting, diarrhoea, blood loss, and burns can also cause it.
Smoking or chewing tobacco substitutes, and vaping can affect how much saliva you make and aggravate dry mouth. Also breathing with your mouth open a lot can also contribute to the problem especially if there are nasal blockages and difficulty breathing through your nose.
Surgical removal of the salivary glands
What are the symptoms?
- Swallowing issues
- Sticky dry feeling in the mouth
- Bad breath
- Sores in the mouth and around the mouth, cracked lips
- Burning or tingling sensation especially on the tongue
- Dry throat or sore throat
- Dry nasal passage
- Problems speaking
- Trouble tasking or chewing food
- A more visible symptom of dry mouth would be a Dry Red Raw Tongue
- Frequent thirst
Can dry mouth cause dysphagia?
Dysphagia is the medical term for swallowing difficulties.
Some people with dysphagia have problems swallowing certain foods or liquids, while others can’t swallow at all. Other signs of dysphagia include coughing or choking when eating or drinking. bringing food back up, sometimes through the nose.
The 2 main causes of Dysphagia , other than from underlying medical conditions are dental issues in the mouth and secondly dry mouth
How to get relief?
- Regular water – especially sparkLing water as the bubbles stimulate the mouth and salvia – having a soda stream in your house or nursing home is a super option for this
- Sugar free chewing gum for 15 minutes twice a day
- Or sucking a sugar free hard sweet
- For those with difficulty with sweets or chewing gum the best remedy is regular sparkling water or Soda water – this stimulate the salivary glands
- Dry mouth gel, spray or mouth wash
- Investigate & Monitor – have the doctor check it or dentist
Decreased saliva and dry mouth may have a major impact on your general health and the health of your teeth and gums, as well as your appetite and enjoyment of food. If signs and symptoms persist, you should arrange an appointment with your dentist.