The dental term "xerostomia"
means dryness of the mouth due to a decreased function of the glands
that produce saliva.
Some Causes of Dry
A permanent feeling
of dry mouth or decreased saliva flow can be caused by:
- biological aging
- this is a contributing factor, but probably does not cause it
- systemic diseases
conditions (example: Sjogren's Syndrome)
immune system (example: AIDS)
disorders (example: Diabetes)
disorders (example: Parkinson's disease)
- decreased chewing
ability- resulting in a liquid diet and soft food choice which tend
to decrease the flow of saliva
- surgical removal
of salivary glands
Dry mouth can occur
- radiation therapy
- radiation can result in permanent damage to the salivary glands.
- drugs or medications
- over 400 drugs cause dry mouth as a side effect. The more common
Signs and Symptoms
If you think you experience
oral dryness, here are some common signs and symptoms.
- burning sensation
of the tongue
- difficulty eating,
especially dry foods
- difficulty wearing
- dry, cracked lips,
and at the corners of the mouth
So What If I Have a
- Having a decreased
flow of saliva has some serious consequences.
- Heavy plaque and
food accumulations tend to occur with dry mouth (xerostomia). This
can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Saliva is the body's self-cleansing
mechanism. It helps remove food, debris, and plaque from the tooth
surfaces, which helps protect against oral diseases.
- Saliva also protects
against cavities. It cleanses the tooth surfaces and neutralizes
acids, and in this way, protects the tooth surface from tooth decay.
People who have dry mouth (xerostomia) are very susceptible to cavities,
especially on the roots of their teeth.
How to Control Dry
- keep fluids at bedside
- avoid tobacco, alcohol
and foods high in sugar
- adjust the air humidity
in your home
- use a saliva substitute
- this is a commercial product which attempts to "wet" the mouth
like saliva does; it can be found in most pharmacies
- establish a good
plaque control program - since heavy plaque accumulations occur
with oral dryness
Dry mouth can result in oral discomfort
and can have serious consequences. If you feel you have this symptom,
please see your oral health professional.
- use fluoride - toothpaste,
rinse, or gel
This site is intended
as general information only and should not
replace regular consultation with Dr.Talcott or the
Dental Hygienist. Copyright ©
2003 Dr Bob Talcott, DDS
and hosted by Binary Farm Web Design