Xerostomia is a big word with a simple definition: dry mouth. It’s the term for the absence of saliva in the mouth that can cause discomfort, often leading patients to seek medical treatment. The condition isn’t a disease in itself, but is actually caused by other factors.
While everyone experiences a dry mouth at one time or another, chronic dry mouth can not only be frustrating, but can also cause medical and dental issues. Treating xerostomia is important to improve overall quality of life as well as preventing any additional problems.
What Causes Xerostomia?
Many different issues can cause dry mouth. Some of the causes for this common condition include:
- Medications. Many over-the-counter and prescription drugs list dry mouth as a side effect.
- Nerve damage. Damage to the nerves that control saliva production can result in xerostomia.
- Cancer treatments. Chemotherapy drugs or radiation can halt the production of saliva.
- Other diseases. Parkinson’s or Sjogren’s syndrome can affect the salivary gland.
Other conditions, including stress and depression, can lead to a lower production of saliva as well.
What Problems does Xerostomia Cause?
Leaving xerostomia untreated can lead to further issues. The condition can cause difficulties with speech and eating, as well as an increase in cavities or infections in the mouth, since salvia helps wash away bacteria from the surface of the teeth.
What is the Treatment for Xerostomia?
To begin treatment for xerostomia, its root cause must be discovered. Eliminating the cause isn’t always possible, so dental professionals will find a treatment option that addresses the issue while not detracting from other medical care.
Some remedies can treat dry mouth, but they won’t cure it. These options include avoiding alcohol-based mouthwashes, using artificial saliva, sipping plain water, or using over-the-counter dry mouth products. Prescription medications can be used to stimulate saliva production in order to replace the saliva and prevent other medical and dental issues.
Dry mouth should be treated not only because of the discomfort it causes, but also because of the serious issues it can cause. Prioritize good oral care and regular dental treatments to prevent further problems. If you’re in need of dental care, make an appointment with Roseman Dental to get help from one of our empathic, patient-focused providers.