Dry mouth is the condition of not having enough
saliva to keep your mouth wet. It is know as xerostomia
is the "workhorse of the mouth"***. Saliva is necessary to help
protect the teeth in these important ways:
Saliva is 98% water and includes
antibodies, enzymes and mucoproteins which provide the
slimy feeling of saliva.
There are three sets of
saliva glands, each producing different proportions of
mucous and serous saliva.
Saliva constantly flushes the mouth to clear
food debris that may act as a food supply for the bacteria in plaque.
It reduces the pH (acidity) of the waste
products produced by plaque which helps to limit tooth decay by these
Saliva is the source of systemic fluorides
and minerals needed for the remineralization of damaged dental enamel.
|It helps digest food
|It prevents infection by controlling bacteria and fungi in
the mouth through its antimicrobial action.
|It makes it possible for you to chew and swallow.
Amylase in saliva begins the digestion of simple starches.
Saliva does not flow evenly through the
mouth. There are saliva "highways", such as
the tongue side of the lower molars, where the flow is
greater and faster. There are saliva
"byways" such as the check side of the upper
incisors where to flow is less and slower. The result
is that plaque will be more cavity causing on the byways
than the highways of the mouth.***
Saliva covers the teeth and gums with a
protein film. Stimulated saliva offers more buffering
protection than non-stimulated saliva. This is why chewing
sugarless gum can often help prevent caries.***
Without enough saliva you can develop tooth
day or other infections in your mouth and you would limit your nutritional
intake if you could not chew or swallow certain foods.
Dry mouth can:
|Cause difficulties in tasting, chewing, swallowing, and
|Increase your chance of developing dental decay and other
infections in the mouth
|Be a sign of certain diseases and conditions
|Be caused by certain medications or medical treatments
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|A sticky, dry feeling in the mouth
|Trouble chewing, swallowing, tasting, or speaking
|A burning feeling in the mouth
|A dry feeling in the throat
|A dry, tough tongue
|An infection in the mouth
|Decay, when there is
not an adequate supply of saliva, the rate of tooth decay increases rapidly
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Most often, chronic dry mouth
is caused by:
Side effect of drug therapy. More than
400 medicines can cause the salivary glands to make less saliva. Medications used to treat hypertension,
anxiety, depression or psychosis cause the most difficulty.
Antihistamines, antispasmodics, cancer-chemotherapy drugs, decongestants, and
muscle relaxants often cause dry mouth.
conditions such as extensive radiation therapy to the face and neck
cause severe dry mouth.
Many disease effect saliva flow: Sjogren's
syndrome*, bacterial and viral infections, poorly controlled diabetes,
salivary-gland stones, tumors, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, anxiety,
HIV/AIDS, depression, Bell's
palsy, and Parkinson's disease. Alzheimer's and stroke can not feel
the wetness in their mouth.
Chemotherapy drugs that are used to treat
cancer can make saliva thicker causing the mouth to feel dry.
Nerve damage from an injury to the head or
neck that tell salivary glands not to make saliva.
Attachment loss from
periodontal disease or who have had root caries are
especially vulnerable to the adverse effects of xerostomia.
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Dry mouth is not a normal part of aging. So if you think you
have dry mouth, see your dentist or physician.
person creates around 1 Liter of saliva a day.
production is reduced, an individual's oral bacteria levels
can increase 10 times over normal levels.
that can cause dry mouth.
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Benefits of Treatment:
These treatments contributes prevention of:
| perio disease |
| mouth irritation |
| brittle teeth so remember to drink
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Understanding the complexity of
is a chronic disease with no known cure or treatment. It has
many manifestations in the oral cavity, and dental professionals
may be among the first health-care workers to identify symptoms.
Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune disorder in which the body
attacks its own moisture-producing glands, affects more than
1 million Americans. This disease typically affects white women,
often near the menopausal age. The cause of Sjogren's syndrome
is unknown. Theories have linked it to hormone levels due to
menopause; however, viruses and genetics also have been
This syndrome and its symptoms are known
to be misdiagnosed with diseases such as diabetes, lupus,
rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome,
and multiple sclerosis. It usually takes the health-care
provider approximately six years to diagnose this disease from
the time of onset. Specialists who treat Sjogren's syndrome are
rheumatologists, ophthalmologists, dentists, and other
specialists. People who are diagnosed with Sjogren's
syndrome experience an array of the following symptoms: - Dry
mouth - Dry eyes - Difficulty with chewing, swallowing, or
talking - A sore or cracked tongue - Dry or burning throat -
Change in the sense of taste or smell - Dental cavities -
Fatigue - Low-grade fever - Enlarged parotid glands (located
behind the jaw in front of the ears) - Joint pain - Oral yeast
infections - Nosebleeds - Bruising - Skin rashes or dry skin -
Vaginal dryness - Shortness of breath.
There are actions that can be taken to
relieve the annoying symptoms of Sjogren’s.
|a high-fluoride toothpaste like Fluoridex
or Colgate’s Provident 5000+ to
help reduce decay.|
|extreme, uncomfortable dry mouth at
night? Try Biotene relief of dry mouth,
including an artificial saliva spray that you can keep next
to your bed on your night table. If you awaken during the
night with dry mouth, give your mouth a couple of quick
spritzes of Biotene’s product and go back to sleep.
|Salagen ( Pilocarpine). Taken four times
a day, Salagen pills have been shown to provide
increased saliva flow and relief of dry mouth.
Saliva flow can start to increase as soon as 20 minutes
after you take Salagen and the increase can last for 3
to 5 hours. Peak effectiveness is about an hour after
you take Salagen. Since it’s difficult to eat when
your mouth is very dry, many people time their Salagen dose
to be taken an hour before mealtimes. Since Salagen may
cause fluctuations in blood pressure or heart rate, you
should be closely supervised by an M.D.
|chew gum or sour candy. If your
candy or gum contains sugar you can set yourself up for|
rapidly-spreading tooth decay. Look for sugarless
candy with Xylitol.
If you chew this gum for five minutes after every meal,
studies show that you can reduce the incidence of tooth
decay up to 62%.
| Sjogren’s, go to www.sjogrens.org.
They put out a monthly newsletter called “The Moisture
a lot of dry mouth, particularly when it gets cold and air
is dry in the house...try Prevident
and Biotene to moisten
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Cigarette smoke undermines protective properties of
Once exposed to cigarette smoke, our normally
healthy saliva not only loses its beneficial qualities but it turns
traitor and actually aids in destroying the cells of the mouth and oral
cavity. Cigarette smoke is not only damaging on its own, it can
turn the body against itself. Cigarette smoke can destroy the
antioxidants found in saliva, leaving behind a mixture of
compounds that can accelerate the development of oropharyngeal cancer
[www.ada.org News Today June 2004]
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Next section: Recommendation for
what to do for dry mouth
*Sjögren's Syndrome is a major cause of dry mouth. You
can get information about dry mouth related to Sjögren's Syndrome from:
Sjögren's Syndrome Clinic
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
Some of this material came from:
National Oral Health Information Clearinghouse
Where are your salivary
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February 06, 2008
Dry Mouth Index