Dry mouth (xerostomia) is a decrease in the amount of saliva produced in the mouth. It may cause discomfort, speaking difficulty, eating and swallowing difficulty. Some people may experience chronic dry mouth, which can have a negative effect on their oral health.
Causes of Dry Mouth
Temporary dry mouth can simply be caused by not drinking enough water or after exercising. It can also be induced a stressful situation and nerves. Often dry mouth is caused by the side-effect of medication, such as pain medications, antidepressants and antihistamines. Chronic cases of dry mouth may be a sign of a serious health condition, such as Sjogren’s syndrome, AIDS, diabetes, head and neck cancers or alcoholism.
Effects of Dry Mouth
Saliva not only starts the process of digestion, but it helps to wash bacteria and food particles off your teeth and neutralise the harmful acids that come with it. A reduction of saliva flow means faster build-up of plaque and bacteria, which in turn can cause bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease.
Other effects include:
- Fungal infection of the mouth (oral candidiasis)
- Burning mouth syndrome
- Difficult in wearing dentures
- Taste dysfunction
- Discomfort in the mouth
- Ways to Relieve Dry Mouth
Here are some ways to prevent dental complications and reduce the discomfort caused by dry mouth:
- Drink at least 8 glass of water per day
- Chewing sugar free gum to stimulate the production of saliva
- Avoid drinking coffee, salty food, alcohol, cigarettes
- Use dental products such as Biotene as artificial saliva replacement
- Have a good oral hygiene routine
- Have routine dental visits and ask you dentist/doctor for advise
- Changing medication