Dry mouth, also called xerostomia, is a feeling that there is not enough saliva in the mouth. It is a condition caused by a decline in the saliva production in the oral cavity. And because of this decreased production, there may sometimes be difficulty in speaking. It can occur to anyone, but is said to be more prevalent in women, elderly and people who are frequently taking both prescription and nonprescription medications. It approximately affects one out of every ten persons and can be caused by a variety of causes, which will be discussed later.
Saliva is part of every healthy mouth. Its functions include lubricating the mouth and protecting it from ulcers and other effects of friction, neutralizing acids and providing antibodies from threats from bacteria. Saliva also begins the chemical digestion of food by releasing enzymes that help break down starch. Moreover, saliva enhances the ability to taste and swallow. A decreased production in saliva may lead to minor complications such as, increased chances of tooth decay.
Causes of Dry Mouth
As previously mentioned, dry mouth can be caused a variety of causes. The most common causes include:
Prescription and nonprescription medication side effects
- Pain, allergies, common cold, etc. (decongestants and antihistamines)
- Acne, obesity, hypertension, etc. (diuretics)
- Diarrhea, asthma, etc. (bronchodilators)
- Muscle relaxants
Diseases and infections side effects
- HIV/ AIDS
- Cystic fibrosis
- Hormonal imbalance
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
Medical treatment side effects
- Chewing tobacco
- Stress and anxiety
Signs and Symptoms of Dry Mouth
One may notice any of the following signs and symptoms when the glands are not producing enough saliva:
- Mouth dryness
- Frequent thirst
- Thick and stringy saliva
- Cracked lips with split skin at the mouth corners
- Mouth sores
- Bad breath
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty speaking
- Trouble tasting food
- Sore throat
First Aid Home Treatment and Management of Dry Mouth
It may sometimes be necessary to seek medical care to be certain of dry mouth. Some medications such as Salagen, may be prescribed in severe cases. In most cases, oral rinse is prescribed to restore mouth moisture. Once the underlying cause is determined, treatment will be given aptly. There are several ways to improve saliva production to prevent further complications and injuries to the mouth.
- Frequently sip plenty of water or sugarless drinks to keep moisture in the mouth. Avoid caffeine as it can dry the mouth.
- During meals, drink water or sugarless drinks to allow for easier chewing and swallowing.
- Suck on sugar-free candy or chewing gum to stimulate saliva flow.
Disclaimer: The article is not to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. Enrolling in First Aid Courses will give knowledge on how to treat and manage dry mouth and other mouth problems.