Oral Hygiene: Dry Mouth 101
Everyday, the human mouth produces three pints of saliva that are used for a number of reasons. It is the saliva that prevents tooth decay and cleans plaque and excess food from the teeth. Apart from neutralizing acids inside the mouth, saliva also amplifies one’s sense of taste and it makes swallowing food easier.
One of the common mouth complications is the dry mouth or xerostomia. Some people think that having a dry mouth is just a very common problem. However, an extreme case of dry mouth can already be a symptom of a more serious bodily complication. This condition is caused by the lack of saliva in the mouth due to aging as well as side effects of medication intake. Drugs that are likely to cause dry mouth are anxiety and stress medications and muscle relaxants.
Ignoring a dry mouth can greatly affect one’s dental health and enjoyment of food. A person will know that he has a dry mouth through the following symptoms:
1. Sensation of dryness in the mouth
2. Split or sore skin at the corners of the mouth
3. Bad breath
4. Stringy or thick saliva
5. Sore throat
6. Gum diseases, tooth decay, and plaque
7. Cracked lips
8. Disrupted sense of taste
9. Hard time swallowing and speaking
Aside from being a side effect of medication intake, a dry mouth can also be due to nerve damage, wherein a person’s neck and head incur nerve damages from surgery or injury; tobacco chewing and smoking; as well as breathing and snoring with mouth open. Xerostomia is also an indication that a person has other health complications like diabetes, Alzheimer’s, or depression.
Tests, diagnosis, and treatments
If an individual is believed to have a dry mouth condition, it is highly recommended to immediately consult a doctor to confirm a diagnosis. The doctor will then review the patient’s medical records and conduct mouth examinations. Identifying the cause of dry mouth is done by means of imaging scans and blood tests.
Moreover, treatment for dry mouth varies according to the specified cause of the doctor. If medication intake is the cause, then the doctor will most likely recommend another medication or adjust the dosage intake. In most cases, good oral hygiene is the best treatment for this type of condition.
In some cases when the main cause of the condition cannot be determined or named by a doctor, there are a number of ways to alleviate dry mouth. A person diagnosed to have a dry mouth can try sucking and chewing on sugar-free candies or gums in order to improve saliva flow. It is also recommended not to eat or drink sugary goodies for these can result to tooth decay.
Other ways to treat a dry mouth condition include:
1. Using a room humidifier to add moisture in the air during night time.
2. Regular water intake.
3. Breathing through the nose and not through the mouth.
4. Visit the dentist regularly
5. Brush teeth regularly with fluoride toothpaste