Xerostomia - Dry Mouth
The simplest things in life are often the most important. As simple as it seems- just a colourless liquid, Saliva is more than just a “mouth-water”.
Saliva keeps the mouth clean, aids in speaking, eating, digesting food and plays a key role in reducing tooth decay. Yes, it is a basic function. And yes, almost all organs of our body perform multiple functions. So, why are we saying it is so important?
The reduction in the secretion of Saliva causes Xerostomia or Dry Mouth. In simple words, the mouth secretes less than the required amounts of the saliva needed. Though it is a common complaint among the elderlies, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t occur among younger people.
Xerostomia (Dry mouth) can have a multifaceted impact on your oral cavity, the extent of which depends on the duration of the dryness and extent of damage to the salivary glands. It can include oral pain and discomfort, difficulty in eating, speaking, swallowing etc., and can produce gum diseases, halitosis and an increase in tooth-decay in the long run. These functional deficits often lead to psychosocial impacts, such as the avoidance of social contact and events, and poor sleep; all of which have the potential to lead to an overall reduced quality of life.
It is important to understand that the sensation of a dry mouth is not always associated with a decrease in the saliva. Predominantly, dry mouth can be due to two broad causes:
- Mouth breathing
- Long term Drugs
- Renal diseases
- Autoimmune salivary gland diseases
- Salivary gland tumours
- Post radiotherapy/chemotherapy of head and neck
Although the condition can be of complex etiology, often certain simple steps can be taken to improve the condition of the patient.
- Sipping water frequently; even during meals
- Use of Alcohol-free Anti-caries mouth rinse
- Avoiding smoking and alcohol
- Using salivary flow stimulants: sugarless gum, hard candy, or lozenges
Saliva (Salivary Functions) is instrumental in a hygienic and normal oral health. A little care and caution will help in early detection and management of dry mouth. Many a times, the solutions to great problems lie in simple things. In this case, it is Saliva.
Last updated on 23 March, 2017.