Have you experienced a dry feeling in your mouth and throat? Your saliva glands may have stopped producing saliva.
Xerostomia or the sensation of a dry mouth is a common problem often seen in individuals where the saliva glands stop producing enough saliva. It can affect 10-38% of patients and is twice as common in women as in men. Some medications, radiation treatment and diseases may have damaged the salivary glands.
You cannot eat or digest food properly without saliva. Saliva coats your teeth and protects them. It controls the bacteria in our mouths so, without it, we are prone to infection and decay.
It is important to go see your doctor or dentist if you are experiencing a constantly dry mouth as it may be a sign of another illness.
Symptoms of dry mouth:
Dry feeling in mouth and throat
Thick saliva – feels like you cannot swallow or speak properly
Rough or raw tongue – pebbled look to the tongue
Constant bad breath
Ultra-sensitive to salty or spicy foods – burning sensation in the mouth
Difficulty wearing dentures
What causes dry mouth?
Insufficient water intake, breathing through your mouth, smoking, stress and dehydration from alcoholic or caffeinated beverages are possible causes.
Taking many medications such as muscle relaxants, antidepressants, antihistamines and diuretics can have a dry mouth side effect. If you are in cancer treatment, have diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Sjőgren’s syndrome (autoimmune condition where the body’s own immune system attacks its own tear and salivary glands) AIDs, hypothyroidism, Sarcoidosis (inflammation of body tissue), or have depression it is very important to see your dentist regularly as tooth decay is more likely to occur if there is no saliva to control the bacteria in the mouth.
If your symptoms are caused from taking medications you should see your doctor as he/she may be able to prescribe alternative drugs or a lower dosage. Or they may prescribe something to stimulate saliva production.
There are some simple remedies such as using a humidifier in your house to increase the moisture. Breathe through your nose as much as possible. Chew sugar free gum or eat sugar free candies available from health food store to increase saliva production. Drink plenty of water and avoid caffeine drinks. Avoid smoking and consuming alcohol.
Using Biotene® toothpaste or mouth rinse can stimulate saliva and provide relief. Our office promotes a dry mouth gel which has a neutral pH and is sugar and alcohol free. A generous amount of gel is smeared over the teeth and gums anytime during the day and before bed after normal tooth brushing.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.