Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)

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Dry mouth syndrome or Xerostomia is the condition whereby saliva is dramatically reduced in the mouth.

Causes of Xerostomia

Causes have been known to include stress and emotional difficulties, underlying medical problems such as disease or infection, trauma to the salivary gland, drug abuse, side effects of medication or cancer treatment and it could also be caused by drinking excessive amounts of alcoholic beverages. Dry mouth syndrome is more likely to occur naturally in older people due to the natural ageing process.

Symptoms of Xerostomia

Some cases of dry mouth syndrome are mild and very temporary. You may have experienced it when you were particularly nervous for example, before a job interview. However some cases are severe and can be incredibly difficult to deal with. Some of the symptoms include a lack of saliva, a sticky feeling in the throat, problems with eating and swallowing, wearing dentures may become difficult, there may be a development of sores and pain in the mouth and taste may be affected too. Other symptoms can include ulcers, halitosis and a definite vulnerability to infections and diseases. Saliva is useful in that it sweeps away any debris left from food. Without saliva, the build up of plaque and infection is much more common.

Treatment of Xerostomia

Firstly, when deciding how to treat dry mouth syndrome, there must be an identifiable cause. For instance, if the medication is causing it, the treatment will be in alternative medications or simply stimulating saliva if no alternative is available. Mild cases can usually be treated with some stimulation to the salivary glands; this is done by chewing gum or sucking on fruit which is particularly flavourful for example pineapple or lemons.

In more severe cases you may be given oral rinses or artificial saliva. Another way is to prescribe medications that increase saliva production. This will only be considered if the dry mouth syndrome is severe. If you think you may be experiencing any symptoms of Xerostomia, do not hesitate to see your dentist as there are many treatments currently available to help treat this condition.


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