In simple terms, xerostomia means a dry mouth. It is a condition that occurs when there is a decrease in the production of saliva in the mouth, which causes the dryness. Xerostomia is not a disease in itself, but can serve as a symptom for many other diseases and conditions. It can result in impaired speech and cause malnutrition in extreme cases.
Saliva is one of the vital components of the digestive process, and aids in chewing and swallowing food. It also works in sensing taste and fighting cavities, and removing plaque from the teeth. Inadequate amounts of saliva in the mouth, puts your teeth and gums at an increased risk of decay, and can also make you lose your sense of taste.
The common reasons for xerostomia are:
- Dehydration: Loss of body fluids can lead to xerostomia.
- Radiation Therapy: Dry mouth is also a common side effect of radiation therapies used in cancer treatment.
- Medicinal Side Effects: Xerostomia is often a side effect of many medications such as blood pressure medicines, diuretics and antidepressants.
Xerostomia can be treated naturally by following some simple tips.
- Keep your mouth as moist as possible. Drink water frequently throughout the day, especially during meals to aid chewing and swallowing. You can also suck on ice chips, which aid in moistening the mouth.
- Another way to stimulate the production of saliva is to chew gum or candies. But make sure they are sugar-free or else you can develop cavities. Artificial saliva substitutes and oral lubricants containing glycerine will also help.
- A dry mouth can also make your lips dry and cause them to crack. Use petroleum jelly to moisten your lips.
- It is recommended to avoid caffeine and alcohol intake if you have a dry mouth. Make sure you use an alcohol-free mouthwash to prevent irritation and dryness.
- A dry mouth is a breeding place for cavities and other oral infections. Oral care and hygiene needs to be taken care of very intensively. Daily use of antimicrobial rinses and fluoride treatments with a low-sugar diet is the way to go in order to combat oral dryness. One should also use prescription toothpastes that contain more fluoride, calcium and phosphate.
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