Dry mouth, also known as Xerostomia, is caused when the glands in the mouth no longer produce saliva. Dry mouth is a common side effect from medications. It can also be found in patients that have had chemotherapy, radiation therapy or nerve damage. It is also frequently found in patients with diseases such as Sjogrens Syndrome, HIV/AIDS, diabetes and parkinsons disease. Smoking and chewing tobacco can also induce dry mouth.
Symptoms of dry mouth are frequent thirst, sticky or dry feeling, burning tongue, problems with speaking or taste. Patients may also experience bad breath. Besides causing the aggravating symptoms mentioned, dry mouth also increases a persons risk for cavities, gum disease and oral infections, such as thrush. Having a lack of saliva puts patients at high risk of developing cavities because saliva is what helps neutralize the acid in the mouth. Saliva also aids in washing away food and plaque.
There are some ways to treat dry mouth. Restoring moisture to the mouth is a great option with sugar free mints or gum, artificial saliva and rinses such as biotene. Drinking plenty of water or sugarless drinks also helps. Patients should receive fluoride treatments at their dental appointments or brushing with a fluoride toothpaste. Patients should try breathing through their nose, not their mouth, as much as possible. It is important to avoid using tobacco and alcohol. Using a humidifier at night can also be helpful.
Patients with dry mouth need to be extra thorough when taking care of their teeth and make sure to brush and floss your teeth two times a day. Dry mouth patients should avoid sugary foods and drinks. It is very important to see your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings.