Dry mouth • What to do about xerostomia?

Dry mouth is a common symptom. The feeling is known medically as a xerostomia. Most often it occurs with stage fright or as a side effect of medication. What other possible causes are there? And what helps against a dry mouth?

A dry mouth is perceived as uncomfortable. While dry mouth (xerostomia) usually disappears after a short time due to stress or stage fright, it can last longer as a side effect of medication or radiation.

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Treatment: what remedies for dry mouth?

Treatment of dry mouth aims to relieve existing symptoms and prevent damage from the deficient saliva. If the symptom is based on serious illnesses, these must be treated – then the dry mouth often disappears again.

There are a number of things people can do about dry mouth:

  • Drink enough: According to the German Nutrition Society (DGE), drink at least 1.5 liters of water and unsweetened herbal and fruit tea throughout the day – but not chamomile tea, as it dries out the mucous membranes. If you need more fluids, for example when exercising or if you have diarrhea, the amount you drink should be increased. The body also needs more fluids in heated rooms.

  • With chewing gum, sugar-free candy or drops, the Salivation stimulated will. To protect the teeth, products without sugar should be used. Sugar makes the saliva tough and promotes the formation of tooth decay.

  • Oral hygiene: In order to additionally protect the teeth from tooth decay and periodontal disease, you should pay attention to careful oral hygiene. This includes brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste. In addition, you can apply a fluoride gel to your teeth once a week. In addition, go to the dentist regularly for a check-up!

  • Food thoroughly chewto stimulate the flow of saliva.

  • Increase the humidity at home or in the office, as heating air in particular dries out the mucous membranes.

  • Do not smoketo protect the mucous membranes from drying out.

Medical treatment for dry mouth

There are also special tablets for sucking or drugs that stimulate saliva production or solutions to moisten the oral mucous membranes. For people with Sjogren’s syndrome or with dry mouth as a result of cancer treatment, saliva replacement preparations can also be used as a spray. All of these drugs should only be used after consulting a doctor. If the dry mouth is a side effect of a medication, you should not stop taking it yourself. Those affected should speak to their doctor about this in order to possibly switch to another preparation.

Causes of Dry Mouth

The body produces 1 to 1.5 liters of saliva daily, which is released into the oral cavity through several large and small salivary glands. If the secretion of saliva no longer takes place to the normal extent, there can be a variety of causes:

  • Dehydration due to insufficient drinking or increased losses

  • Dry heating air

  • Heavy sweating

  • fever

  • Infectious diseases with nausea and vomiting

  • Age-related functional impairment of the salivary glands

  • Breathing through the mouth if you have a cold, nasal congestion or snoring

  • Excitement and stage fright

  • smoking

  • Autoimmune diseases such as Sjogren’s syndrome (Sicca syndrome), in which the salivary glands are destroyed

  • Metabolic diseases such as diabetes mellitus

  • Hormonal diseases such as diabetes insipidus, which affect the body’s water balance

  • Inflammation and diseases of the salivary glands (sialadenosis, sialadenitis, or tumor)

  • Side effects of medication (antihypertensive drugs such as ACE inhibitors or diuretics, strong pain relievers, anti-Parkinson drugs, sedatives, sleeping pills, antihistamines, anticholinergics, anti-epileptics, antiemetics, antidepressants, neuroleptics, cytostatics)

  • Radiation as part of a cancer disease

Drugs such as cannabis, heroin, cocaine or ecstasy also affect the salivary glands and limit their function. As a result, consumers often suffer from impaired function of the salivary glands. This can cause the mouth to dry out.

Dry mouth at night

The body produces less saliva at night, which is a natural process. The consequences are often a dry mouth and a slight bad breath the next morning. Anyone who snores while sleeping usually notices a more pronounced dry mouth in the morning. Drinking alcohol or eating salty food before bed also promotes dry mouth.

Dry mouth thyroid

Although many people don’t think about the thyroid gland when they have a dry mouth, a dysfunction can be the cause of dry mouth. Most of the time, the mucous membranes of the eyes and nose, for example, are also dry. Those affected should better have these symptoms clarified by a doctor.

Symptoms of dry mouth

The tasks of saliva are varied: Food should be made lubricious, swallowing easier and the enzymes contained in it are necessary for digestion. If there is a lack of saliva, however, speaking and swallowing are often difficult, and food particles can get stuck in the oral cavity or on the roof of the mouth and cause injuries. Since saliva has an important protective function for the teeth and oral mucosa, a dry mouth increases the risk of dental diseases and tooth decay or an inflamed oral mucosa.

Dry mouth is often accompanied by a number of accompanying symptoms:

  • Durst
  • Burning sensation in the mouth
  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Saliva is viscous to sticky
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing and speaking
  • Taste disorders
  • Numbness in the mouth
  • Chapped lips
  • Caries
  • Inflammation of the lining of the mouth
  • Diseases of the periodontium, for example periodontitis
  • Prosthesis incompatibility with lack of adhesion and pressure points

Diagnose der Xerostomie

At the beginning of the diagnosis, the anamnesis takes place, the doctor will ask for how long the feeling of dry mouth has existed and whether there are other symptoms such as increased thirst or chapped lips. The physical examination provides further clues. A visual diagnosis can be used to determine whether the gloss of the oral mucosa caused by the saliva is missing and what is the consistency of the saliva.

In addition, the function of the salivary gland can be objectively measured using various methods. A simple method is to measure the stimulated saliva secretion. To do this, the patient chews something, for example paraffin wax, while the saliva is collected. If the value is 1.5 ml / min and above, the saliva production is in the normal range. From a value of less than 0.7 ml / min there are pathological changes in the secretion. At rest, the body produces around 0.3 ml of saliva per minute; here, too, a value of 0.1 ml / min is considered a sign of illness.

A simple alternative is the Saxon test: For this, those affected put a cotton ball in their mouth for a few minutes. Before and after that, the cotton ball is weighed to determine the amount of saliva produced.

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Source: Lifeline | Das Gesundheitsportal by www.lifeline.de.

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