Dry Mouth FAQs – What you Need to Know About Xerostomia

Question 1: What is Dry Mouth, which is called Xerostomia? 

Answer: Dry Mouth—otherwise known as Xerostomia—is a condition where there is a lack of saliva in the mouth. Saliva is essential to keep the mouth moist and keep it lubricated. Without saliva, an individual can experience difficulty speaking, swallowing, chewing and digesting food. This can affect the person’s ability to have normal social interactions, and can cause him or her to withdraw from social activities. In addition, the lack of saliva can make an individual more prone to plaque accumulation, cavities, periodontal disease and oral infection.


Question 2: Who can get Dry Mouth?

Answer: Xerostomia, or dry mouth, is prevalent among seniors. In fact, one third of the population over age 65 experiences xerostomia. In addition, it has been estimated that 30% of all tooth decay in seniors is caused by dry mouth. 

People who undergo radiation and chemotherapy treatment for cancer also encounter serious dry mouth issues. 

Lastly, people who use CPAP machines for sleep apnea also tend to get dry mouth.
 

Question 3: What general health issues are impacted by Dry Mouth?

Answer: Dry mouth can cause difficulty speaking, fungal infections in mouth, hoarseness, sore throat, difficulties with chewing and swallowing food, burning sensation in mouth, dry nasal passages and difficulty wearing dentures.

 

Question 4: What are the major Dry Mouth causes?

Answer: The most common types of medication can cause dry mouth including:

• Antihistamines
• Decongestants
• Hypertension meds
• Antidepressants
• Sedatives
• Pain medications
• Parkinson’s diseases meds
• Antacids

Many of these medications cause dry mouth, highly elevating the risk for gum disease and tooth decay because the bacteria sticks to the gums and teeth for longer periods. 

Dry Mouth can also be a main symptom of autoimmune diseases. For example, Sjogren’s syndrome, a chronic inflammatory auto-immune disease, is characterized by dry mouth and dry eyes. More than 4 million people suffer from Sjogren’s, and 9 out of 10 patients are women.

Diabetes is another disease in which dry mouth is often the first symptom. Today, 1 in 4 Americans are diabetic and these cases are seen almost daily. 

Physiological aging also causes xerostomia. While people are living longer due to advances in health care, age-related chronic conditions are increasing, which includes dry mouth. 

Cancer therapy, such as the use of chemotherapy drugs, can change the nature of saliva and the amount produced. Radiation treatments to the head and neck can also damage salivary glands, causing a decrease in saliva production

Drinking alcohol and smoking or chewing tobacco can increase dry mouth symptoms as well. 

Question 5: How can I determine if I have Xerostomia or Dry Mouth?

Answer: To determine if you have dry mouth, it is best to see an experienced dentist like Dr. Raymond Lim at Dental Smiles. To better help him understand your condition, you may want to ask yourself the following questions and inform him of your answers (if he hasn’t already asked you about them)

• Do you need to moisten your mouth frequently or sip liquids often?
• Does your mouth feel dry at mealtime?
• Do you drink a lot of water during the day but your mouth continues to feel dry throughout the day?
• Do you have less saliva than you used to?
• Do you have trouble swallowing?
• Is it difficult to eat dry foods such as crackers or toast?
• Do you suffer from any chronic illness, such as diabetes or hypertension?
• When was the last time you had a complete physical examination by your doctor?
• What prescription and OTC medications are you currently taking?
• What dietary supplements are you currently taking?
• How often do you brush your teeth?
• Do you wear dentures? If so, how often do you clean your dentures?
• If you wear dentures, do they always feel loose?
• Have you noticed any sores in your mouth or on your lips?
• How much water do you drink throughout the day?
• Have you been losing weight?

*Note: Questions excerpted from the Oral Cancer Foundation Website
https://oralcancerfoundation.org/complications/xerostomia 

Question 6: Can Dry Mouth cause complications?

Answer: Yes, if you don’t have enough saliva and develop dry mouth, this can lead to:
• An increase of plaque, tooth decay and gum disease
• Mouth sores
• Yeast infection in the mouth (thrush)
• Sores or split skin at the corners of your mouth, or cracked lips
• Poor nutrition from having problems with chewing and swallowing
• Loose dentures

Question 7: What dry mouth remedies can I do to help lessen symptoms?

Answer: As a home remedy, you can avoid the following food and drinks:
– chewing or smoking tobacco
– sugary foods or drinks
– acidic foods or drinks
– dry foods
– spicy foods
– astringents
– excessively hot or cold drinks
– Alcohol consumption should be kept to a minimum
– Caffeine should be only be consumed in moderatio 

Question 8: What products can I use to treat Dry Mouth? 

Answer: There are commercially available products that come in the form of mouthwashes, oral sprays, moisturizing gels and lozenges. These are water-based solutions that provide temporary relief for xerostomia patients.

Question 9: Is there any new treatment for xerostomia?

Answer: Yes, consult Dr. Raymond Lim at Dental Smiles of Willow Glen for his recommendations for your situation. Dr. Raymond Lim offers the only FDA-approved device for patients who have tried everything else for chronic dry mouth with no success. Ask him about the xerostomia treatment that increases saliva by 20% after one month of use.

Question 10: 
Think you have xerostomia or have more questions about dry mouth?

Feel free to make an appointment to see our xerostomia dentist, Dr. Raymond Lim. Dr. Lim is a San Jose / Willow Glen expert at diagnosing dry mouth and can provide a solution that best fits your needs.  Make your appointment today by calling (408) 978-1888 or by using our online contact formFor future blog updates, be sure to like us on Facebook.