Xerostomia is a medical condition where an individual has intense dry mouth. This condition can come in a range of extremities and has a variety of causes. Xerostomia is not a disease or a syndrome. It is simply a situation of an individual not having enough saliva in their mouth. This condition is sometimes referred to as cottonmouth, drooth or pasties. This article outlines the basics of xerostomia to help you understand how to deal with the problem.
What Causes Xerostomia
Hyposalivation occurs when salivary glands simply do not produce sufficient saliva. This directly causes xerostomia. The reason for hyposalivation may be an underlying disease that reduces saliva production. This can include Sjögren's syndrome, Lambert-Eaton syndrome or even poorly controlled diabetes. Sometimes salivary production naturally wanes with aging.
The body may also produce lower levels of saliva as a reaction to an induced drug or medication. Antihypertensives, antidepressants, analgesics, tranquilizers, diuretics and antihistamines tend to have dry mouth as a side effect. Chemotherapy can also cause dry mouth.
There are a variety of xerostomia cases that are not caused by problems of the salivary glands and are not related to hyposalivation. Think about the last time you had work done on your teeth and you had to have your mouth open for an extended period. When the work was done, you probably had dry mouth. This is exactly what happens when individuals excessively breathe through their mouth. If you wake up with dry mouth, it’s likely the result of sleeping with your mouth open.
Other people have temporary or situational dry mouth. Perhaps they experience xerostomia when they are unusually nervous or stressed. Dehydration can lead to dry mouth and both alcohol and smoking can worsen dry mouth as well.
What are the Risks of Xerostomia?
Xerostomia can make chewing and talking difficult. As saliva helps keep your enamel in great shape, a shortage of saliva can lead to tooth decay and cavities. Xerostomia is also a huge contributor to halitosis, or bad breath.
How do I get rid of Xerostomia?
There are a few simple things you can do to reduce your dry mouth and the effects you are suffering from. You should try to drink plenty of water. 8 or more glasses of water is the recommended level. Stay away from alcohol and tobacco products.
If your dry mouth is very serious and requires further treatment, we recommend using products for dry mouth. If you feel your xerostomia is being induced by medications, speak with your doctor about possible alternatives.
About the Author: Dr. Dailley specializes in finding bad breath solutions for people with halitosis. Dr. Dailley has a degree in Cell & Molecular Biology from San Francisco State University and a dental degree from the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry. Dr. Dailley runs a halitosis clinic in the bay area and can help you get rid of bad breath.