​Dry Mouth - Causes and Treatments

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Dry Mouth - Causes and Treatments

Most of us will suffer from an occasional bout with Dry Mouth from time to time. These rare occurrences are not a cause for immediate concern. However, those that suffer from chronic and persistent episodes of dry mouth would be wise to take the issue seriously. Dry Mouth can be a sign of serious underlying health problems and can actually trigger other serious health issues as well.

Your mouth needs the moisture that is provided by saliva to insulate the oral cavity from the numerous toxins and bacteria that it is exposed to everyday. Many of the foods that we consume on a regular basis are acidic. Left unchecked, these foods would have very detrimental effects on our teeth and gums in a short period of time. Saliva is alkaline, thus it provides the necessary defense against this type of acidic corrosion. Saliva production is invaluable to the body’s cavity prevention efforts.

Not only is saliva important in the prevention of cavities, it plays a crucial role in the prevention of periodontal (gum) disease. Periodontal disease has recently been associated with an alarming variety of ailments. Some of these sicknesses, such as heart disease, are quite serious. In another disturbing example, researchers found that people that are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and periodontitis experience a decline in their cognitive abilities that is 600% faster than those without periodontitis.

Causes

There are many reasons why a person may have to endure Dry Mouth. Some of these can be tackled with relative ease, while others present more intricate challenges to patients and their caregivers.

Lack of fluids

The easiest cause to resolve is the lack of fluids. Saliva is derived from the fluids that the body is supplied with. Contrary to what numerous commercial marketing campaigns have claimed for many years; the best fluid to consume for purposes of eliminating dehydration is water.

Certain liquids can actually have the effect of dehydrating us. Alcoholic beverages, carbonated drinks and coffee are the 2 primary culprits with regards to liquids that cause dehydration. If you are enjoying soda, wine, champagne, beer, hard liquor or coffee; it would be of great benefit to you to supplement these beverages with water.

Regular Exercise

Professional athletes have rates of tooth decay that far exceed what is found in the rest of the population. The reason for this is that exercise places more oxygen demands on the body. The small holes of the nostrils can only provide so much air. In a natural and involuntarily response, humans are programmed to breathe through their mouths when great physical demands are placed on them.

The problem with mouth breathing is that it dries out the oral cavity. This compromises the defense mechanisms of the mouth.

There is a method of nostril breathing that athletes can employ while exerting themselves. It is called the Buteyko Method. Nostril breathing during intense exercise is a skill that takes some degree of practice to master. Once mastery of this technique is attained, the rate of tooth decay in athletic practitioners of this method aligns with the rates of the general population.

Aging

As humans age, our systems do not function as well as they did when we were younger. Salivary glands fall under this umbrella as well. The older that we get, the less saliva that the salivary glands produce. Unfortunately, increased episodes of Dry Mouth are a natural side effect of aging.

Chemotherapy and Radiation treatments

Among the long list of potentially harsh side effects of cancer treatment you will find Dry Mouth. Over the past 4 decades, the United States Government has sponsored a huge amount of research in the war against cancer. Great strides have been made in the fight against a disease that has plagued humanity for far too long.

Unfortunately, these miraculous treatments are well known for causing collateral damage to the human body. Dry mouth is one of the manifestations of this damage.

Salivary Gland Cancer

Salivary Gland Cancer is a rare cancer that afflicts the glands responsible for saliva production. Men are more likely than women to suffer from this form of cancerous disease. The incidence of this disease is fewer than 1 in 100,000 persons. For those that receive this unfortunate diagnosis, the chances for survival are excellent if it is caught early. If the disease is caught in later stages, it can be extremely deadly.

Many prescription drugs

There are more than 600 prescription drugs that are known to cause dry mouth. People that have psychiatric problems that require chemical intervention know this all too well. Gastrointestinal medicines cause this as well. Blood pressure medications are ubiquitously prescribed and are prone to cause oral dryness, too.

Stress

Tension and anxiety can compromise the way that the body functions. Some people are prone to experience Dry Mouth when they are placed under extreme duress. The problem is more pronounced if the stressful situations occur regularly.

For people on antidepressants or psychotropic drugs, it is not the body’s response to tension that creates the Dry Mouth response; the cause is the medication used to alleviate that tension.

Solutions

Fortunately, there are many things that you can do to treat Dry Mouth.

  • Gum – Chewing gum stimulates the salivary glands into saliva production mode. For the sake of your teeth, make sure that your gum is of the sugar-free variety.
  • Saliva Replacement Lozenges – These lozenges dissolve in the mouth very quickly and provide near-instantaneous relief from the symptoms of Dry Mouth.
  • Flouride Rinse – A fluoride rinse is another type of saliva replacement in that it is alkaline in nature. It protects your teeth from acids found in food and acids that are created by bacterial plaque.
  • Drinking water throughout the day – The simplest remedy to Dry Mouth is to consume more water. Instead of drinking a large quantity of water at one time, try taking small sips of water in regular intervals throughout the day.

Conclusion

Dry Mouth is usually a condition that does not pose a great risk to human health; it is often a mere annoyance. However, it can be a serious condition for people that have to deal with it on a constant basis due to some medical malady or as an unintended consequence of treatments to alleviate numerous sicknesses.

Fortunately, there are several options that are readily available to treat this condition. For those that do not find home remedies and over-the-counter treatments helpful, they can consult with a medical professional for a more aggressive course of action. 

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