What is ‘Xerostomia’ or dry mouth?
Xerostomia, also known as dry mouth, is dryness in the mouth. You can have dry mouth because a change in the composition of saliva or reduced salivary flow, or have no identifiable cause. This symptom is very common and is often seen as a side effect of many types of medication. Dry mouth is more common in
- Older people (mostly because this group tends to take several medications)
- Mouth breathing (people who breathe through their mouths)
- Radiotherapy involving the salivary glands
- Chemotherapy and several diseases can cause hyposalivation( reduced saliva flow ) or a change in saliva consistency and hence a complaint of xerostomia.
- Sometimes there is no identifiable cause, and there may be a psychogenic reason for the complaint.
What are the effects of dry mouth?
The effects of xerostomia on the mouth and teeth are
- Dental caries
- Acid erosion
- Oral candidiasis or thrush
- Infection of the salivary gland
- Altered taste sensation and altered sense of smell
- Halitosis or bad breath
- A burning or tingling sensation in the mouth
- Saliva that appears thick or ropey.
- Mouth that appears dry.
- Difficulty swallowing and chewing, especially when eating dry foods
- The tongue may stick to the palate,causing a clicking noise during speech, or the lips may stick together.
- Gloves or a dental mirror may stick to the tissues.
- Fissured tongue and reddish appearance of the tongue.
- Saliva cannot be “milked” (expressed) from the salivary duct.
- Difficulty wearing dentures, e.g., when swallowing or speaking. There may be generalized soreness and ulceration of the areas covered by the denture.
- Mouth soreness .
- Lipstick or food may stick to the teeth.
- A need to sip drinks frequently while talking or eating.
- Dry, sore, and cracked lips and angles of mouth.
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