Xerostomia is a subjective sensation of dry mouth that may be associated with a reduction in the quantity and quality of salivary flow by a malfunction of the salivary glands may be due to a side effect of taking certain drugs (antidepressants, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, diuretics …), very common in older people because of the chronic nature of some diseases, several drugs used to treat them and can affect the salivary glands. Although xerostomia is not associated with age does a high prevalence in the elderly.
Stress, anxiety and depression are other diseases that affect the central nervous system and, therefore, may also affect the salivary glands and, therefore, cause dry mouth.
Xerostomia often goes unnoticed in the visit to the dentist. It is important that if dry mouth seen notified, expressly, the dentist or medical professional so you can perform specific diagnostic tests to determine whether it is xerostomia and to apply appropriate treatment.
Two types of xerostomia:
- Reversible: there is some activity of the salivary glands and salivary production can be stimulated
- Irreversible: there is irreparable damage to the salivary glands which prevents its operation.
In the event that the cause is the use of a drug, the problem improves when treatment ends or is exchanged for another. Conversely, if the cause is a treatment of head and neck radiation therapy or autoimmune disease Sjogren’s syndrome, which can destroy part of the salivary glands, the patient will not recover to its pre salivary production and you should resort to palliative treatments.
What happens in your mouth when you spit missing?
Saliva is a very important lubricating fluid capacity, the buffering capacity and antimicrobial action, in addition to intervene in digestion, speech, etc. Say exerts an important function in cleaning the oral cavity. For this reason, people with xerostomia are more prone to infections such as dental caries, candidiasis (infection by the fungus Candida sp.), Infection and inflammation of the gums, bad breath and difficulty chewing and swallowing.
The quality of life of patients with xerostomia can be improved taking into account a number of recommendations:
- Maintain proper hydration: Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
- Avoid drinking alcohol and snuff favoring dry mouth and acid intake and spicy foods that irritate the lining of the oral cavity.
- Extreme oral hygiene: Patients with xerostomia is necessary to maintain proper oral hygiene since saliva cannot perform their usual functions. It is recommended brushing or 3 times daily after meals; moreover, the use of toothpastes and mouthwashes fluorinated recommended for strengthening the enamel and protects teeth against caries.
- Regular visits to the dentist: It is advisable to visit a specialist dentist every six months so that it can track the evolution of xerostomia and apply the most appropriate treatment according to the state of the oral cavity.
- Moisturizing and stimulating saliva treatment: There are specific products to moisturize the mouth and stimulate salivary production (toothpastes, gels, mouthwashes and sprays) which can be very useful in these patients. For patients who still retain some salivary function, as in the case of xerostomia caused by ingestion of drugs, use of sialogogues (stimulating salivary production) can help increase salivary function and alleviate the effects of xerostomia.