Xerostomia is the medical term for dry mouth. Having a dry mouth can be incredibly annoying and it can lead to other medical complications such as tooth decay and bad breath. There are many causes of these conditions and different types of treatments to try.
Symptoms of Xerostomia
When you have dry mouth, there is not enough saliva to keep your mouth well lubricated. This can cause symptoms such as cracked lips, split in the corner of your mouth, mouth sores, difficulty swallowing, loss of taste, bad breath, sore throat, gum disease, tooth decay, and thick saliva. In addition, fungal infections may appear along with dry mouth.
Causes of Xerostomia
Many medications can cause dry mouth. Some of the most likely culprits are decongestants, antihistamines, antidiarrheals, and anxiety medications. Drugs used in chemotherapy as well as radiation treatments for cancer can have xerostomia as a side effect. Sometimes dry mouth is caused by injury or damage to a nerve in the neck area. In addition, other medical conditions can contribute to the problem such as diabetes, snoring, and autoimmune disease.
Treatment Of Xerostomia
In order to treat dry mouth effectively, the cause must first be determined. If it is caused by medication, the condition should clear up once the medication is stopped. If the medication is to be taken long-term, it may be necessary to adjust the dosage or switch the type of drug. In severe cases, your doctor may prescribe medications that stimulate the production of saliva. It is also recommended to stop smoking, give up caffeine, and limit alcohol since those substances can dry your mouth.
To increase the flow of saliva, you can try ice chips, hard candy, or sugar-free gum frequently throughout the day. In order to protect your teeth, avoid sugary foods, and apply a fluoride product such as a gel or rinse before you go to bed. Your dentist may recommend sleeping with a device that keeps your teeth covered during the night for protection. Try to breathe through your nose as much as possible and sleep with a humidifier in the room for added moisture. There are saliva substitutes you can buy at a drugstore without a prescription that may be helpful too. These contain hydroxyethyl cellulose or carboxymethylcellulose, and they help your mouth retain moisture.
While a dry mouth may seem like a simple nuisance, it can actually become a serious medical problem when it interferes with the ability to swallow or when it causes sores, infections, or dental decay. Effective treatments are available, so if your dry mouth persists and you are unable to manage it on your own, consult a healthcare provider for advice on treatment options.