Dry mouth is a condition that thousands of older adults have, one that causes discomfort. This is because it feels like you are extremely thirsty, or your tongue feels like burning all the time. Moreover, your lips are also dry and feel cracked.
Xerostomia, or dry mouth, is no light matter, as those with this condition experience a huge decrease in the quality of life. The sense of taste and ability to swallow are affected, and even speaking normally is no longer possible. Moreover, the risk of cavities and periodontal disease increases due to the lack of saliva, which helps clean the gums and teeth.
Saliva plays an incredibly important role in keeping your oral tissues healthy and preventing tooth decay. It is also vital in washing away particles of food stuck in the mouth, as well as acid and bacteria. Unfortunately, when you are suffering from this condition, you will also notice that your breath smells bad. For other symptoms, you can browse this site.
Dry mouth is a condition commonly experienced by older adults but aging is not directly a cause. Instead, there are several reasons behind this.
First of all, the medications you take can make your mouth drier than normal. Even something as simple as antihistamines, decongestants, anti-hypertensives, and diuretics can already contribute.
Second, dry mouth may be a symptom of diseases like diabetes or can be caused by systemic reasons like an immune system that is not functioning normally or hormonal disorders. Rheumatoid conditions and neurological problems are also connected to xerostomia.
Third, treatments like radiation therapy at the head or neck part of the body can damage the salivary glands permanently and cause dry mouth. Those with nerve damage are also more likely to report having less saliva as normal.
When you observe that your mouth is drier than normal, there are several steps you can take to avoid the problem from getting worse or to manage the uncomfortable symptoms.
Avoiding Certain Drinks and Foods
What you eat and drink can affect how dry your mouth is. Spicy or salty foods will irritate or hurt dry mouth, while sweet and sticky foods might lead to cavities, especially when saliva is not present to clean the teeth after. Should you have dry mouth and want to eat sweets, it is best to simply brush the teeth immediately after.
Smoking will worsen the drying of the mouth, as well as drinking caffeine, alcohol, and all carbonated drinks.
Maintaining Oral Hygiene
Because there is less saliva in the mouth, there is a higher risk for cavities and tooth decay. This is why keeping great oral habits is important in limiting this risk. You will simply have to clean your mouth more often to reduce the food particles and acids in the teeth. Your dentist might prescribe more fluoride if you have dry mouth, but make sure that you avoid any toothpaste that has sodium laurel sulfate and mouthwash that has alcohol.
When your mouth feels drier than normal, sipping fluids more often can help. This is also important when eating, as drinking hydrates the mouth and reduces the uncomfortable symptoms of dry mouth.
Using a Lip Balm
To prevent dry and cracked lips, you should apply lip balm regularly.
Reaching For Salivary Stimulants
Chewing gum or sucking on candies can stimulate the flow of saliva, and this is a good way to reduce the symptoms of dry mouth. Just make sure to choose sugar-free ones to reduce the risk of cavities.
Opting For Saliva Substitutes
There are some products available over-the-counter that can help in moisturizing the mouth, normally in the form of liquids or gels. While the effects are temporary, they will still reduce symptoms of dry mouth.
Talking To Your Doctor
Your doctor can look into possible causes of dry mouth, specifically if it is because of your medication. He may change the dosage or shift to a different drug altogether, to be able to reduce the symptoms. Moreover, for extreme cases of dry mouth, your doctor can give you medication that can stimulate the production of saliva, like pilocarpine and cevimeline.
Dry mouth is a condition that you should pay attention to, especially before it gets worse. This way, your doctor or dentist can help you avoid the worsening of the symptoms and at the same time, prevent any cavities or tooth decay.