Dry Mouth13th February 2018
A dry mouth or ‘xerostomia’ isn’t something you would immediately think could cause a problem with your mouth, but saliva is needed to cleanse your teeth, it keeps everything moist and allows you to be able to swallow.
Things to look out for are the feeling of dryness and the saliva becoming thick and sticky which may cause difficulties in speaking and swallowing. Some people report a ‘prickly’ or burning feeling in the mouth and become sensitive to some spicy or citrus foods. The lack of cleansing saliva can result in higher gum disease and decay, so it is important to speak to your dentist for further advice.
Mouth dryness can be a natural symptom of the ageing process, however, taking some medications used to treat heart disease, high blood pressure and depressive illnesses can contribute to the effects. Symptoms can also be experienced by those people who have had radiotherapy and surgery of the head and neck. Conditions such as diabetes, lupus and Sjogren’s syndrome can result in a dry mouth, but blocked salivary ducts shouldn’t be ruled out.
Effects of Dry Mouth
Saliva helps to cleanse your teeth, cancelling out the effects of acid attack and reducing the chances of tooth decay and gum disease. As saliva breaks down food, it helps you to swallow more easily, some people with dry mouth do have problems with swallowing.
Having a reduced amount of saliva can make eating drier foods harder, it can make speech more difficult and can also contribute to bad breath.
There are a few products designed to help keep your mouth stay moist and more comfortable. Some gels and sprays have extra ingredients which may help prevent tooth and gum problems. There are also special products to help with your day-to-day oral hygiene (for example toothpastes and mouth rinses).