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Dry mouth (Xerostomia)

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Dry mouth is a lack of saliva, or reduction in its flow. It is also termed xerostomia and is a common complaint. It is often seen as a sign of aging and put down to ‘getting down in age’, but this is not the case. Yes, we are more likely to get it as we get older, but this is due to medications, other illness and conditions. So, don’t disregard this condition as due to ‘getting old’; instead, seek help from your dentist.{{more}}

Why is saliva so important?

Saliva performs some very important functions we do not notice (until we get dry mouth).

Such functions include:

-Keeps the oral cavity clean with its washing action.

-Reduces plaque bacteria with an antibacterial action.

-Lubricates to help with chewing food and speaking.

-Initiates the digestion of certain food groups.

Dry Mouth Symptoms

If there is a reduction in salivary flow, we can experience a range of symptoms:

Obviously, one’s mouth will feel ‘dry’. But there is also a range of other signs and symptoms that may be produced, based on the above salivary functions not being performed:

-A sticky, dry feeling of the oral ‘soft tissues’. This includes the lips, tongue, gums, inner cheeks and sometimes back of the throat. This is why it is also called ‘cotton mouth’.

-Difficulty in eating and speaking, as saliva plays a key role here.

-Difficulty swallowing can occur

-Reduction or alteration in taste sensation (dysgeusia). Some complain of a bad, bitter or metallic taste in the mouth

-Halitosis (bad breath)

-Difficulty wearing dentures, as saliva is important in keeping them in place. This is especially true of complete dentures

-A burning sensation, often most noticeable on the tongue

-Cracks at the corner of the lips and sores on the inner oral soft tissues.

Symptoms may be worse at night as salivary flow naturally decreases when we are sleeping.

Xerostomia also puts one at much greater risk of oral disease. So, one may get symptoms of decay (such as toothache, broken teeth and discolouration) and/or of gum disease (such as bleeding gums, recession and in severe cases loose teeth). Soft tissue inflammation is more common with xerostomia.

Dr Keith John

Email:drkeithjohn@gmail.com

Clinic: SVG Dental Corporation

Telephone: 784-456-2220

Cell: 784-526-0752

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