Dryness in the mouth is the result of impaired hydration of the oral mucosa. It may be the result of reduced saliva production by the salivary glands (i.e. xerostomy), stressful situations, and various serious diseases. This ailment is also the first symptom of much more serious health issues not only within the mouth. To treat xerostomy, both causal and symptomatic treatment is used.
What is dry mouth symptom?
Dry mouth symptom (xerostomy) is a disorder involving a reduction in saliva production by the salivary glands, especially the parotid glands. Xerostomy may be the result of:
- salivary gland inflammation,
- strong stress stimuli,
- other diseases (including salivary gland neoplasms).
Prolonged xerostomy is very dangerous because insufficient saliva, and consequently prolonged dryness of the oral mucosa, can lead to Dangerous consequences.
What are the causes of mouth dryness?
It is important to note that mouth dryness may result not only from impaired salivary gland function. It can also be the first symptom of dehydration of our body or excessive consumption of table salt. A healthy person should drink about 2–2. 5 liters of liquids a day. Chronic mouth dryness and thirst may be a symptom of a number of other problems, including endocrine, kidney, and metabolic (type 2 diabetes) diseases.
Changes in the nasal sinuses and nose (curve of the nasal septum, chronic sinusitis, allergic rhinitis), making breathing difficult, often force a non-physiological path of constant mouth breathing, which, in a very short time, leads to drying of mucous membranes.
On the other hand, mouth dryness can be a nervous ailment, caused by severe and prolonged stress, emotional disorders (depression). Bad eating habits and stimulants (including smoking and, especially, excessive alcohol consumption) greatly dry up the oral mucosa. In addition, some groups of medicines for other conditions also have that effect.
Symptoms related to mouth dryness
A reduced amount of saliva, in addition to mouth dryness, can cause:
- halitosis, or a bad smell from the mouth – saliva constantly brushes teeth, preventing Bacterial adhesion and plaque formation to a large extent; it also contains a large group of enzymes (including lysozyme) that have a bactericidal effect; bad mouth odor is associated with bacteria producing, among others, hydrogen sulfide;
- burning, pain, sores in the mouth – reduced hydration of the mucous membranes very quickly leads to the formation of local cracks and damages that are very difficult to heal;
- problems with the flavor perception – the process of receiving taste stimuli is associated with the registration of specific substances contained in foods by taste buds that are located on the surface of the tongue;
- tooth decay;
- speaking difficulty – associated with dryness and sore throat, and as a result the formation of hoarseness, as well as the constant need to drink water;
- fungal infections – they result from a reduced protective barrier (especially enzymatic saliva) and promote the formation of oral candidiasis – a very troublesome and persistent in the treatment disease;
- dry eyes and other mucous membranes – sometimes dry eyes and mouth may be the result of Sjögren’s syndrome.
How to recognize and treat xerostomy?
The diagnosis of mouth dryness is usually made by a dentist based on medical history and oral cavity condition assessment during a dental visit. To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor may order sialometry, i. e. a test to assess the amount of saliva produced. The patient for a certain amount of time spits saliva into a special calibrated vessel in which its volume is measured – on this basis the amount of saliva produced is calculated. The treatment is both causal and symptomatic.
It begins with the determination and possible removal of the cause – this is called causal treatment. When the cause remains elusive, diagnostics continue to exclude more serious diseases, and symptomatic treatment is started by giving artificial saliva substitutes. In most cases, xerostomy is treated symptomatically, using artificial saliva substitutes to ensure that the mucous membranes are kept moist.
The treatment is lengthy, and proper and conscientious oral Hygiene is very important to prevent additional infections.