Xerostomia is a condition that is marked by dryness of mouth. It will reduce the saliva formation and block the secretion of salivary gland temporarily causing more dryness. It is actually a symptom of many diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma and hyperthyroidism and this symptom will cause serious side effects on the life of the affected person. It can cause slurred speech, inability to sense taste and makes the person vulnerable for dental problems.
Xerostomia Causes :
Certain medications cause the symptoms of dryness on your mouth. Drugs given for blood pressure, depression, anxiety and tranquilizers would produce this effect. Certain diuretics and antihistamine drugs will also have adverse effect on the user. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can alter the normal flow and secretion of saliva from salivary gland. Certain diseases like Sjogren’s syndrome can cause dryness in your eyes and mouth. Endocrine disorders, heightened level of stress and depression can produce the same effect.
Any sudden injury to the head or neck region can cause serious damage on the nerves that will cut off the nerve supply to the mouth. This will stop the secretion of saliva or reduce it considerably. Prolonged use of tobacco in any form and old age can also cause xerostomia or dry mouth.
Dry mouth is the common term used to describe xerostomia and it is a serious condition and not just a nuisance. The affected person will not be able to enjoy his food anymore and moreover this condition will cause serious tooth decay promoting bacterial growth. Very often dry mouth or xerostomia is side effect of medications.
There will not be enough saliva in the mouth leading to dryness. Saliva will be thick and less quantity. There will be painful sores in the oral cavity and the lips will develop cracks. You may not be able to enjoy the taste of food anymore and this condition will cause increased plaque formation and tooth decay. In addition this condition will give rise to fungal infection on the mouth.
Cracked lips, bad breath, inflammation of the lips, tearing of soft tissue of oral mucosa, taste disorders (dysgeusia), painful tongue, inflammation on the tongue, ulcerous growth on the tongue, tooth decay, plaque formation, gum disease, stringy saliva, sore throat, problems in wearing dentures are some of the other signs of xerostomia.
Your doctor will physically examine the mouth and collect your medical history. He would make a list of medications you are taking to find out if xerostomia is caused due to certain medicines. He would request for blood test and scanning of salivary gland to identify how much saliva can be produced through the glands. Sialometry and saliography tests are done for measuring the flow of saliva from the salivary gland. If necessary, your doctor will take a small sample of salivary gland for testing in the lab.
Dry Mouth Treatment :
In case the problem of dry mouth is caused as side effect of medicines your doctor will stop it or give suitable alternative. Pilocarpine or Salagen is prescribed for stimulating the secretion of saliva from the salivary glands. In case of severe tooth decay, your dentist will ask you to wear special covering of teeth that is filled with fluoride.
Your doctor will first identify the right causative factor that is responsible for xerostomia. Treatment is to be given for increasing the saliva flow, for managing dental caries, for replacing the lost secretion, and for treating infections.
The patients with xerostomia should not wear fixed dentures and the doctor should examine their mouth regularly for detecting any unusual color patches or ulcers. They should avoid taking dry foods, acidic foods, spicy and hot foods, sugary drinks and astringents.
The treatment should be oriented in giving special kinds of food that is blended and moist so that it becomes easy to swallow. Some people use artificial saliva or follow easy method of sipping water for facilitating digestion. You can also use mixture of water and glycerin for rinsing the mouth to prevent plaque formation and tooth decay. Dental caries is one of the common problems in patients with dry mouth or xerostomia and hence the dentist will have to take precautions to prevent it.
Pictures of Xerostomia :
Images, Pics, Pictures and Photos of Xerostomia
The patient can chew gum chocolates or sugar free candies to enhance production of saliva. He should avoid taking coffee and tea which reduces the saliva and water content. Reduce the intake of acidic foods since it promotes tooth decay. Use a fluoride toothpaste and also rinse that contains fluoride. Biotene oral balance or similar products can be used alternatively.
Whenever you are eating you need to sip water frequently so that food particles get broken up easily for digestion. Finally using room humidifier will be helpful for adding moisture at night time.