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Dry Mouth or Xerostomia

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dry-mouthDue to an ever-expanding list of drugs causing dry mouth, xerostomia is becoming commonplace. The normal resting (unstimulated) rate of salivary secretion in adults is between 0.3 and 0.5 ml per minute with a normal stimulated rate of between 1-2 ml per minute. In severe cases of poor salivary secretion (hyposalivation) there may be no measurable flow. Salivary flow below 0.1 ml per minute is classed as xerostomia.
The Causes Of Dry Mouth

Aging. A contributing factor, not necessarily a cause.

Salivary Gland Blockage. Usually due to a salivary stone blocking the duct that carries the saliva to the mouth. This normally causes only a partially dry mouth and often the stone is passed down the duct harmlessly. Sometimes however minor oral surgery is required to remove a salivary gland stone.

Poor Chewing. Resulting in a liquid diet which often decreases salivary flow

Radiation Therapy. Radiation can result in permanent damage to the salivary glands. result in a decreased output of the salivary glands. Very often this is temporary and salivary production may resume at a later date depending on the dosage and position of the radiation.
Medications. Over 400 drugs cause dry mouth as a side effect. The more common ones are: Antidepressants, Antihistamines, Antihypertensives, Decongestants, and Diuretics.
Other. Rheumatoid conditions (example: Sjogren’s Syndrome), Dysfunctional immune system (example: AIDS), Hormonal disorders (example: Diabetes), and Neurologic disorders (example: Parkinson’s disease).
Systemic Diseases. Including: Diabetes, Auto-immune disorders, Leukaemia, Head and neck surgery, HIV infection, Stress and depression
 Signs & Symptoms Of Dry Mouth
  • Burning sensation of the tongue
  • Candida infection
  • Cracked, dry lips
  • Difficulty eating, especially dry foods
  • Difficulty wearing dentures
  • Difficulty with speech
  • Increased thirst
  • Impaired taste
Your mouth produces around 3 to 4 CUPS of saliva a day! That’s alot of saliva! The Academy of General Dentistry reports, though, that it’s great news – saliva is nature’s Listerine. It helps to wash away all those food particles and bacteria that cause plaque and decay.

Consequences of Dry Mouth

  • Without the cleansing effect of saliva, heavy plaque and food accumulation often occurs.
  • This may lead to decay and gum disease.
  • The chemical makeup of saliva also protects against cavities. Not only does it cleanses tooth surfaces, but it neutralizes acids. Without this neutralization, bacterial acids are free to produce decay.

Dry Mouth Suggestions

Saliva is more than just water; it’s actually a fairly complex mixture of electrolytes and organic micro- and macro-molecules. The difficulty of treating dry mouth (xerostomia) lies in the problem of physically replacing between 1  to 2 liters of fluid/ day and in coming up with an alternative to replace each of saliva’s many roles. Some relief can be obtained by following the below recommendations. A sharp increase in the occurrence of decay is often noted in patients with xerostomia; thus it is imperative that only sugar-free products be used.

  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco products
  • Avoid foods high in sugar
  • Chew sugarless gum to stimulate salivary production
  • Diabetic sweets and drinks
  • Frequent sips of water are the simplest solution. Try to carry a water bottle with you.
  • Glycerine mouthrinses
  • Use fluoride – toothpaste, gel, or rinse
  • Salivary substitutes – there are a number of commercially available products which mimic natural saliva.
  • Milk has a lubricating effect.

Contact us today to schedule your appointment with Dr. Morse.

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