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X - Xerostomia / Dry Mouth (A to Z Challenge April 2014)

Dry mouth is a condition in which your mouth is unusually dry. A dry mouth can affect both your enjoyment of food and the health of your teeth. The medical term for dry mouth is xerostomia

A result of reduced or no saliva, dry mouth can lead to problems because saliva helps prevent tooth decay by limiting bacterial growth and washing away food particles. Saliva also enhances your ability to taste and makes it easier to swallow. In addition, enzymes in saliva aid in digestion. Patients with a persistently dry mouth may develop a burning or scalded sensation and have poor oral hygiene. They are prone to increased dental caries, periodontal disease, intolerance of dentures and oral infections, particularly candidiasis.


Symptoms:

  • Dryness in your mouth
  • Saliva that seems thick and stringy
  • Sores or split skin at the corners of your mouth
  • Cracked lips
  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty speaking and swallowing
  • Sore throat
  • An altered sense of taste
  • A fungal infection in your mouth
  • Increased plaque, tooth decay and gum disease
  • In women, dry mouth may result in lipstick adhering to the teeth.

 Causes:
  1. Medications: Drugs used to treat depression and anxiety, antihistamines, decongestants, high blood pressure medications, anti-diarrheals, muscle relaxants, drugs for urinary incontinence, and Parkinson's disease medications all cause dry mouth as a side effect.
  2. Aging
  3. Cancer therapy: Chemotherapy drugs can change the nature of saliva and the amount produced. Radiation treatments to your head and neck can damage salivary glands, causing a marked decrease in saliva production.
  4. Nerve damage: An injury or surgery that causes nerve damage to your head and neck area also can result in xerostomia.
  5. Other conditions like Sjogren's syndrome, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, HIV/AIDS, anxiety disorders and depression.
  6. Tobacco use
Treatment :
  1. Frequent sips of cool drinks.
  2. Sucking pieces of ice.
  3. Sucking sugar-free fruit pastilles.
  4. Eating partly frozen melon or pineapple chunks.
  5. Sugar-free chewing gum - which stimulates salivation in patients with residual salivary function.
  6. Petroleum jelly - which can be applied to the lips to prevent drying and cracking.
  7. Pilocarpaine
  8. Acupuncture

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