Dry Mouth Syndrome (Xerostomia) Causes Treatment

Xerostomia otherwise known as “Dry Mouth Syndrome” is a disease in which a person has a lack of saliva in his mouth. While seemingly simple in its major symptom of dry mouth, Xerostomia can cause many serious dental problems. Dry Mouth Syndrome is characterized by an absence of saliva in which the patient has a dry and unpleasant feel in his mouth. The condition causes a person to not be able to spit, swallow, speak or eat comfortably. Dry mouth can even present itself as a sore throat, burning mouth, diminished sense of taste, bad breath and very chapped lips.

Saliva in the mouth plays a very important role, especially in dental health. It is critical in tooth remineralization during which saliva aids in chemical reactions and without its presence, remineralization cannot occur. Because the saliva is not present to wash away bacteria, food particles collect in the mouth and add to the amount of bacteria in the mouth. Saliva contains enzymes which normally break down food in between teeth. In a dry mouth condition, the tooth and gums become more susceptible to bacterial infections which lead to cavities and periodontal disease. Saliva also aids in the digestion of food and acts as a lubricant.

Dry mouth syndrome is truly a disease that affects the salivary glands which means anything that affects these glands, could be a cause of Xerostomia.

Specific causes include:

  • Many prescription medications from antidepressants to antihistamines
  • Amphetamine or cannabis use
  • Chemotherapy or radiation
  • Natural aging
  • Diabetes, Parkinsons or Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Dehydration or breathing through the mouth

Xerostemia cannot be healed by any one method, rather the underlying condition must be corrected. Simple changes without a doctor’s intervention can be tried to help with the symptoms of dry mouth syndrome such as avoiding tobacco and alcohol and drinking plenty of water. Avoiding sugar is a key measure since a dry mouth patient is much more susceptible to bacteria formation. Sugar normally converts into bacteria and bacteria are the cause of all teeth and gum maladies. If a patient seeks medical attention, a dentist can prescribe a type of gel or spray called Aquoral which acts as artificial saliva. However, the most important thing for a patient is to treat the underlying cause of dry mouth. Seeing a dentist or doctor is most important to receiving the correct diagnosis and treatment plan. Also, knowing the possible side effects of any treatments can prevent or warn someone of the occurrence of dry mouth.