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What is dry mouth?

Saliva is needed to moisten and cleanse our mouths as well as to digest food. Saliva also prevents infection by controlling bacteria in the mouth. When you don’t produce enough saliva, your mouth can become dry and uncomfortable.

Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, can, fortunately, be treated in several different ways. In this article, we will discuss the causes and problems of dry mouth and how it can be treated.

What causes dry mouth?

There are many different causes of dry mouth including:

Certain medication

Dry mouth is a common possible side effect of a lot of prescription medication including drugs used to treat depression, pain, allergies, colds, epilepsy, nausea and many more. It can also be a side effect of muscle relaxants and sedatives.

Diseases and infections

Suffering from dry mouth can be a side effect of certain medical conditions such as HIV, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, anaemia, hypertension, Parkinson’s disease and having a stroke as well as many other conditions.

Medical treatments

Certain medical treatments like radiation to the head and neck and chemotherapy can cause damage to the saliva glands. It is these glands that produce the salvia that keeps your mouth moist.

Nerve damage

Dry mouth can be a result of nerve damage to the head and neck area from trauma, injury or surgery.

Dehydration

When you let yourself become dehydrated, you are putting your body into a lot of danger, including your mouth becoming dry. There are also certain conditions that can dehydrate you such as a fever, excessive sweating and vomiting.

Lifestyle factors

Smoking or chewing tobacco can affect the production of saliva and if you already suffer from dry mouth, will make it much worse.

What are the symptoms of dry mouth?

Symptoms of the problem can include a sticky and dry feeling in the mouth, frequent thirst, sores in the mouth, a dry throat, a burning sensation on the tongue, problems with speech and taste and bad breath.

How is dry mouth treated?

If you believe you are suffering from dry mouth as a result of medication that you are currently taking, speak to your doctor. They may be able to alter the dose of medication or swap you to a different medication. Your doctor may also prescribe an oral rinse that can restore the moisture in your mouth.

Other ways that you can try to improve the amount of moisture in your mouth are:

  • Chewing sugar-free gum
  • Drinking lots of water
  • Brush with fluoride toothpaste
  • Rinse with an alcohol-free mouthwash
  • Breathe through your nose instead of your mouth
  • Use a room vaporiser

If you would like further information on dry mouth and how to treat it, please call Stella Maris Dental on 0121 369 2588.

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