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Dry Mouth / Xerostomia

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Dry Mouth

Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia is a result of reduced saliva. To keep the mouth moist and healthy the normal flow of saliva is about 1.5 litres per day. Dry mouth cannot only affect both the health of teeth and gums but also the enjoyment and digestion of food. Untreated, dry mouth can lead to serious oral complications and health problems.

Saliva serves many important roles such as controlling pH balance, and washing away food. Saliva is also necessary for tasting, chewing, swallowing, digesting, speaking and lubricating the mouth. Saliva is also necessary for re-mineralizing teeth to help prevent cavities

Symptoms of Dry Mouth Include

-Stringy, sticky or foamy saliva -Bad Breath

-Sores at the corners of the mouth
 -Altered sense of taste

-Dry, cracked lips
 -Painful tongue

-Increased plaque, tooth decay and gum disease

-Difficulty speaking -Difficulty chewing and swallowing


-Malnutrition

Causes

-Mouth Breathing & Snoring -Sjogren’s syndrome

-Medications -Diabetes

-Chemotherapy -Smoking

-Radiation Therapy -Alcohol

Treatment

In many cases it is not possible to correct the dry mouth itself, and treatment focuses on relieving the symptoms and preventing tooth decay and gum disease.

-Sip water & avoid sugary beverages which contribute to tooth decay

-Use sugar-free gum or hard candies

-Use over-the-counter saliva substitutes (lubricants) such as Biotene

-Choose alcohol-free mouthwashes because alcohol can be drying.

-Limit caffeine and alcohol, eliminate tobacco

-Breathe through the nose rather than the mouth

–Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air at night

-Remove dentures at night

-Brush 2 X per day with fluoridated toothpaste& floss daily

-Rinse with water after meals

For severe xerostomia, fluoride trays or high fluoride toothpaste may be recommended to protect teeth.

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