Having a dry mouth is an extremely debilitating issue for sufferers. The technical term for dry mouth is xerostomia (ZEER-oh-STOH-mee-ah). Having a dry mouth can affect your eating, swallowing, speech and taste in your mouth. It will also put you in the “high risk” category for tooth decay.
Dry mouth is the feeling that there is not enough saliva in your mouth. Everyone has a dry mouth once in a while – if they are nervous, upset or under stress. However, if you have a dry mouth all or most of the time, it can be uncomfortable and can lead to serious health problems.
Symptoms of dry mouth include:
- A sticky, dry feeling in the mouth
- Trouble chewing, swallowing, tasting, or speaking
- A burning feeling in the mouth
- A dry feeling in the throat
- Cracked lips
- A dry, rough tongue
- Mouth sores
- An infection in the mouth
Dry mouth is not a normal part of aging. Causes of dry mouth include: some medicines, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, nerve damage, salivary gland diseases, Sjogren’s Syndrome, HIV/AIDS and diabetes. The treatment depends on the cause.
Things you can do to improve your experience include:
- Sipping water
- Avoiding drinks with caffeine
- Avoiding tobacco
- Avoiding alcohol
- Chewing sugarless gum
- Sucking on sugarless, hard lollies
Not having saliva in your mouth removes the mouth’s natural defense and antibacterial cleansing action, resulting in low pH levels and bacterial overgrowth, which in turn result in dental decay, periodontal disease and Candidiasis.
Some people feel a dry mouth even if their salivary glands are working correctly. People with certain disorders, like Alzheimer’s disease or those who have suffered a stroke, may not be able to feel wetness in their mouth and may think their mouth is dry even though it is not.
There are many products on the market for dry mouth. A newly launched product called DRY MOUTH STRIPS seems to be working for some patients. It increases saliva flow by over 100%, works for up to two hours and is gluten and sugar free. It is important to individually assess each patient though, as the cause of the dry mouth will usually determine what will work best. What works on one person will possibly not work on another.