Dry mouth is also known as xerostomia. It occurs when salivary glands of mouth do not produce enough saliva. This condition causes a parched, or dry, feeling in mouth. It can also cause other symptoms, such as bad breath, a dry throat, and cracked lips.
Saliva is a necessary part of digestion process. It helps moisten and break down food. It also works as a major defense mechanism to help body maintain good dental health, protecting mouth against gum disease and tooth decay.
Dry mouth is not a serious medical condition on its own. However, it is sometimes a symptom of another underlying medical problem that requires treatment. It can also lead to complications like tooth decay.
SYMPTOMS OF DRY MOUTH
- Dryness or a feeling of stickiness in mouth
- Saliva that seems thick and stringy
- Bad breath
- Difficulty chewing, speaking and swallowing
- Dry or sore throat and hoarseness
- Dry or grooved tongue
- A changed sense of taste
- Problems wearing dentures
In addition, dry mouth may result in lipstick sticking to the teeth.
CAUSES OF DRY MOUTH
Dry mouth is caused when the salivary glands in the mouth do not make enough saliva to keep mouth wet. These glands may not work properly as the result of:
- Medications - Hundreds of medications, including many over-the-counter drugs, produce dry mouth as a side effect. Among the more likely types to cause problems are some of the drugs used to treat depression, high blood pressure and anxiety, as well as some antihistamines, decongestants, muscle relaxants and pain medications.
- Aging - Many older people experience dry mouth as they age. Contributing factors include the use of certain medications, changes in the bodies ability to process medication, inadequate nutrition, and having long-term health problems.
- Cancer therapy - Chemotherapy drugs can change the nature of saliva and the amount produced. This may be temporary, with normal salivary flow returning after treatment is completed. Radiation treatments to our head and neck can damage salivary glands, causing a marked decrease in saliva production. This may be temporary or permanent, depending on the radiation dose and area treated.
- Nerve damage - An injury or surgery that causes nerve damage to our head and neck area can result in dry mouth.
- Other health conditions - Dry mouth can be due to certain health conditions, such as diabetes, stroke, yeast infection (thrush) in your mouth or Alzheimer's disease, or due to autoimmune diseases, such as Sjogren's syndrome or HIV/AIDS. Snoring and breathing with mouth open also can contribute to dry mouth.
- Tobacco and alcohol use - Drinking alcohol and smoking or chewing tobacco can increase dry mouth symptoms.
- Recreational drug use - Methamphetamine use can cause severe dry mouth and damage to teeth, a condition also known as "meth mouth." Marijuana also can cause dry mouth.
COMPLICATIONS OF DRY MOUTH
- Increased plaque, tooth decay and gum disease
- Mouth sores
- Yeast infection in our mouth (thrush)
- Sores or split skin at the corners of our mouth, or cracked lips
- Poor nutrition from having problems with chewing and swallowing
HOMOEOPATHIC TREATMENT FOR DRY MOUTH
BRYONIA : Useful for dry mouth associated with markedly dry and parched lips,throat and tongue.Given when tongue feels rough and cracked and may be coated white or yellow.There is increased thirst for water and drinking momentarily offers relief in dryness.There is bad, offensive odour from mouth with frothy saliva.
NUX MOSCHATA : Useful for intensely dry mouth with sticking of tongue to roof of mouth/palate. The throat is also dry.Given when dryness of mouth and throat is very troublesome while sleeping.Useful for bad smell from the mouth and a foul, bitter or sour taste persists.
NATRUM MUR : Very useful in cases of dryness of mouth, lips and tongue when all food tastes bitter. There is clean, shiny appearance of tongue.Useful for burning sensation at tip of tongue.Also useful for apthae on tongue and cheeks with great smarting and burning sensation.
KALI BICHROME : Very well-indicated medicine for dry mouth with sticky/stringy saliva with bitter or salty taste in mouth.Given when dryness of mouth gets better by drinking cold water. There may be a coppery taste in mouth.Given when tongue is also dry, red and cracked and may have a yellow-white coating. There may be stinging and pricking pains in tongue.
BELLADONA : Helpful for treating cases of dryness of mouth, inner cheeks, fauces and throat. There is excessive dryness of throat which can cause difficulty in swallowing.There is burning, scraping and a constricted sensation felt in the throat along with dryness.
PULSATILLA : Useful for dry mouth which is attended with bad or putrid breath which is mostly noted in the morning time. Given when along with mouth the tongue and pharynx are also dry.