Xerostomia (dry mouth)
Xerostomia is defined as the dryness of the mouth resulting from reduced or absent saliva flow. It is not a disease pathology, but it may be a symptom of various medical conditions, a side effect of a radiation to the head and neck, or a side effect of a wide variety of medications.
It is about 20% prevalent, with about 50%of cases found more in Elderly Individuals. It occurs more in female than in male.
- Radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
- Medications such as Bronchodilators, piriton, diuretics, omeprazole , cancer drugs etc
- Disease conditions like sicca syndrome, sjogren’s syndrome, upper respiratory tract Infection, Diarrhea etc
- Surgical removal of salivary gland.
- Lifestyle such as smoking or chewing tobacco.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Saliva is regarded as a catalyst which moistens our food thereby aiding in mastication and digestion of food. It also prevents infection in the mouth.
When there is deficit production of saliva, It leads to:
- Insomnia/ lack of sleep
- Oral Candidiasis or thrush.
- Dental caries.
- Dysphagia or difficulty in swallowing especially when eating dry food.
- Sticking of tongue into the palate.
- Cracked Lip.
- Offer frequent sips of water or artificial saliva.
- Encourage the person to breath through the nose and desists from breathing through the mouth.
- Lubricate with gravies, butter, margarine, milk, cream ,or bouillon ,Sugarless hard candy, chewing gum, or popsiclesso as to stimulate saliva production.
- . Products such as fluoride toothpaste, moisturizing gel, or mouthwash can be used to promote good oral hygiene and decrease dryness
- . If the patient is allowed occasional ice chips, they can be made from normal saline to prevent depletion of electrolytes.
- . Adequate post-prandial(oral hygiene) oral hygiene and prompt treatment of oral candidiasis are essential.
- Encourage frequent mouth care.
- Saliva substitute is available over the counter and is helpful, especially at night when patients complain of a choking sensation from extreme dryness.
- A dry mouth is uncomfortable and can cause increased bacterial accumulation and mucous membrane breakdown
- . Alcohol-containing mouthwashes increase dryness and should be avoided. Lemon glycerin swabs may also increase dryness .so therefore should be avoided.
- ,Artificial saliva and oral gels can be tried for xerostomia but are often not effective.
- Stimulation of saliva flow by sugar-free chewing gum or lozenges may be helpful.