xerostomia or dry mouth is the reduction in the amount of saliva in the mouth. Dry mouth is related to a loss of quality of life of the people who suffer from it. It affects women more than men, and is more common in older people. From 45-50 years old, half of the population already suffers from it and 3 out of 4 from the age of 70).
The main causes of oral dryness are:
Nervous system disorders: Stress, anxiety, depression, anorexia, Parkinson’s disease, brain tumours.
- Consumption of medicinal products and other substances such as tobacco.
- Reduction in saliva-producing stimuli.
- Reduction in oral stimuli (taste, loss of teeth)
- Reduction in extraoral stimuli (sight, smell, hearing…)
- Salivary gland disorders
- Dehydration and malnutrition
- Diabetes mellitus
- Surgery of the saliva glands
- Rheumatic disease
- Autoimmune diseases (Sjögren’s syndrome)
- Radiotherapy and chemotherapy
It has also been shown that there is also a greater incidence of dry mouth in people living in retirement homes or for those who are hospitalised.
As there is less saliva, you notice that it is thicker and does not perform its function properly. A number of very common conditions or symptoms may be experienced:
- Greater number of and fast-evolving caries.
- Inflammation and bleeding gums.
- Candidiasis. Fungal infection, which may be localised on the tongue, palate and other mucosa.
- The tongue and lip folds crack.
- A higher number of mucosa infections as the mucosa becomes more fragile and sensitive.
- Denture users get lesions in the gums due to the lack of lubrication and the friction of the denture.
- The voice changes, becoming weak and hoarse.
- Loss of the sense of taste and difficulty in chewing and swallowing food.
- Bad breath.
How to avoid the sensation of dry mouth:
- Promote oral hygiene after each meal with a special toothpaste for dry mouth (xerostomia) and soft-bristle brush to clean teeth, gums and tongue.
- Rinse the oral cavity after brushing with a mouthwash indicated for xerostomia that includes an antiseptic for daily use to prevent the appearance of dental plaque.
- If the patient has dentures, they should be removed at night and kept in a container with water and a product for hygiene and disinfection. Rinse thoroughly before using again.
- Lips should be kept well moisturised, lip protector or olive oil may be used. Do not use Vaseline if your mouth is dry because it can make it even drier.