Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a common condition in which the mouth is abnormally dry.
This is mostly due to reduced secretion of saliva by the salivary glands in the mooth. It usually occurs as a side effect of certain medications.
However, dry mouth can also be caused by conditions that directly affect the salivary glands. Severe cases of dry mouth can lead to health problems and can affecte a persons appetite and ability to enjoy food.
Saliva helps to prevent tooth decay by neutralizing acids produces by bacteria, limiting bacterial growth and washing away food particles.
Saliva also enhances taste and makes it easier to swallow. Furthermore, saliva contains enzymes which are required for normal digestion to occur.
Certain medications, such as drugs used to treat depression, nerve pain (neuropathy) and anxiety. Other medications that can cause dry mouth include antihistamines, decongestants and muscle relaxants.
Cancer treatment. The chemotherapeutic drugs used can change the nature and amount of saliva that is produced. Radiation therapy can cause damage to the salivary glands, leading to decreased production of saliva. This can be temporary or permanent depending on the dose of radiation and area treated.
Injury or nerve damage to the head or neck.
Certain health conditions, such as Sjogren's syndrome or HIV/AIDS. S troke and Alzheimer's disease may cause a perception of dry mouth, even though the salivary glands are producing enough amounts of saliva. Snoring and breathing with the mouth open can also lead to dry mouth.
Smoking or chewing tobacco.
Using methamphetamine can cause severe dry mouth and damage to the teeth. This condition is known as "meth mouth".
4 Making a Diagnosis
To diagnose dry mouth, a dentist examines the mouth and reviews a patient's mediacal history and a list of all the mediactions a patient is taking.
Blood tests and imaging tests of the salivary glands may also be carried out. Tests that measure the amount of saliva produced to identify the cause of dry mouth can also be required.
If a doctors suspects a patient has Sjogren's syndrome, a biopsy of salivary glands may be taken for lab tests.
FindATopDoc is a trusted resource for patients to find the top doctors in their area. Be visible and accessible with your up to date contact
information, certified patients reviews and online appointment booking functionality.