Xerostomia is the syndrome of dry mouth. It is a common condition that usually affects elderly people. It can appear as an individual condition, or as a symptom of other diseases. It is connected with several types of medication, radiation, autoimmune diseases, diseases that affect the salivary glands, dehydration and more. The reduced amount of saliva can lead to many other symptoms and complications. Patients usually experience a burning or tingling sensation in their mouth, change of the taste function, difficulty while chewing and swallowing, sore throat, lips and more. These patients are exposed to a greater risk of dental caries, gum disease, oral candidiasis, bacterial infections. Unfortunately, people don’t really pay attention to the symptoms and delay their visit to the dentist. This condition should be taken care of as soon as possible.
The causes range from an elderly age to medicaments. As we age, our salivary glands age too. The age-related dry mouth is usually connected with medication. A number of pills that elderly people take can lead to xerostomia. Among them are antidepressants, antipsychotics, diuretics, bronchodilators are just a part of the medication groups that lead to a dry mouth. There are several autoimmune diseases that are accompanied with xerostomia. The Sjogren Syndrome is one of those and affects several types of glands in the body. Smoking and alcohol appear as common causes of this condition. Salivary acute and chronical infections do present with a lower salivary flow. Patients who undergo radiation therapy can experience xerostomia. Other causes include hormonal conditions, autoimmune diseases, Hepatitis and more.
Numerous symptoms accompany the condition of dry mouth. The main reason behind xerostomia is a lower amount of saliva in the mouth. The first one any dentist would notice is a higher prevalence of caries. The mouth is extremely dry, and the mucosa looks different. You can notice that all surfaces are dry with only one look. Patients feel that sensation, plus often feel tingling or even pain. Because of the dryness, they can suffer from ruptures inside the oral cavity, or around the mouth on the corners, Saliva is a very important protecting factor in the oral cavity. With the lack of saliva, there will be more dental decay. Patients will also notice that their taste of food has changed, which is also called dysgeusia. Xerostomia can really affect the emotional and physical state of people. Another symptom is oral candidiasis caused by the Candida species. These people are more likely to even have a disturbing smell. Because of the dry mucosa, patients will experience difficulties in chewing and swallowing the food. The saliva provides a lubricating effect, which is now gone. Another thing that people will notice is an uncomfortable smell coming from their mouth. Since the saliva flow is much lower, the oral cavity becomes more inhabited with bacteria, and there is more food residue. There is not enough liquid to provide self-cleaning. Another symptom that always appears is thirst, due to the very dry tissues. Patients can suffer from common infections of the salivary glands, and that can be the main reason for the hyposalivation. The range of symptoms is very diverse and depends on the age and the cause.
The management of xerostomia is very difficult. It all depends on the cause of the condition. The treatment steps are only meant to ease or eliminate the symptoms, but in most cases, they will not cure the condition. Patients are prescribed with medication that stimulates the salivary flow. They are also encouraged to chew gums. Patients will take saliva substitutes to ease all the symptoms and dryness. They are advised to have a high level of oral hygiene and visit the dentist more often. Dentists usually collaborate with other doctors who treat the primary condition.