The xerostomiaalso called dry mouth syndromeIt is a condition that is characterized by decreased saliva production. This pathology, which affects the salivary glands, can have its origin in various causes and in order to make a diagnosis it is necessary to go to a doctor who can determine the cause through different tests.
Xerostomia especially affects those over 50 years of age. It is estimated that approximately 20% of the population suffers from it and it can decrease the ability to chew, swallow, taste and even speak. In addition to causing oral diseases.
Signs and symptoms
Among the main signs and symptoms of xerostomia is feeling of having a dry and sticky mouth due to less saliva or because it is thick and slimy.
This causes chapped lips and a rough, dry tongue along with difficulty in tasting, chewing and swallowing, as well as the appearance of halitosis. Sometimes burning in the mouth or tongue can also occur.
Since saliva is responsible for maintaining a healthy balance of bacteria in the mouth and cleaning the acid generated by food, the lack of it can cause a rapid proliferation of these microorganisms that cause cavities, sores, thrush and periodontal diseases.
The causes of dry mouth syndrome can be very diverse. That is why it is important to carry out the pertinent studies to detect the specific cause and carry out an appropriate treatment.
Some of them are smoking, this habit decreases blood circulation in the mouth and therefore can affect saliva production, as can excessive alcohol consumption.
Medications such as antidepressants, antihypertensives, anti-inflammatories, antiasthmatics, antihistamines, and muscle relaxants can cause dry mouth as a side effect.
Diseases such as Sjögren’s syndrome, lupus erythematosus, diabetes, arthritis, and even some psychiatric illnesses can also trigger it.
However, one of the main causes is the chemotherapy and radiation therapy, as they can directly affect the salivary glands and make the saliva thicker. In the case of chemotherapy, it can take up to eight weeks after the end of the treatment for the salivary glands to recover their function, while in the case of radiotherapy up to six months.
Fortunately, there are several resources that can be used to reduce or alleviate xerostomia. Mainly it is very important keep your mouth hydrated Frequently drinking water or sugar-free drinks or sucking on ice cubes, using humidifiers, and keeping lips moist.
It is common for the doctor to prescribe medications that stimulate the production of saliva. There are some such as pilocarpine (Salagen) or cevimeline (Evoxac) or salivary substitutes that contain carboxymethylcellulose or hydroxyethylcellulose.
Consume sugar-free gum and that, if possible, contain xylitol. This helps prevent the appearance of cavities, although it is important not to abuse them as they can cause intestinal discomfort.
Avoid the consumption of tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, foods, sugary drinks and nasal decongestants. Reinforce oral hygiene by brushing your teeth after each meal. Also use dental floss and a mouthwash that contains fluoride or do it with salt and baking soda.