What is Xerostomia? Xerostomia or hyposalivation is a pathology in the oral cavity whose symptomatology is dry mouth. It is caused by low salivary gland activity and according to several scientific studies it affects approximately 20% of the world’s population, with a higher incidence in women and those over 50 years of age.
Despite being a common symptom, xerostomia should be controlled by a specialized dentist, since saliva has a very important function in the mouth: it maintains its balance to avoid infections, caries, halitosis or gum diseases such as gingivitis or periodontitis.
Causes of dry mouth, What causes xerostomia?
Dry mouth may be a symptom of a pathology that needs to be monitored and treated. According to its origin, two types of xerostomia are classified:
- Reversible Xerostomia: characterized by low salivary secretion that can be stimulated. It is often caused by periods of stress, activities that require frequent public speaking, the intake of certain medications, missing teeth or dietary imbalances.
- Irreversible xerostomia: this type of dry mouth is more difficult to stimulate, since there is damage or involvement of the salivary glands. It usually occurs in people with systemic diseases such as diabetes or Sjögren’s syndrome, or in patients suffering from head or neck cancer and undergoing radiotherapy treatment.
When to see a specialist for dry mouth
The main symptoms that will make you suspect you have xerostomia are:
- Sensation of dry mouth, lack of saliva or very thick saliva, cuts on the lips, redness and irritations in the mouth.
- Inflammation and bleeding gums: With the lack of saliva we lose lubricant to reduce the adhesion of bacterial plaque in the oral cavity, which is the cause of inflammation and bleeding gums. Here is more information on how to treat bleeding gums.
- Fungal infections such as candidiasis: the lack of saliva leaves the oral cavity unprotected, facilitating their entry.
- Halitosis: lack of saliva increases bacterial plaque and its toxins, which cause halitosis.
- Dental sensitivity: With the lack of saliva we reduce the protective films on the surface of the tooth, increasing sensitivity. To learn more about tooth sensitivity, find out how to remove tooth sensitivity here.
- Swallowing and digestion problems, such as pharyngitis, dyspepsia or constipation: Saliva is an indispensable element for these biological processes to develop correctly.
- Appearance of caries: Without saliva, dental protection is reduced and the risk of contracting this pathology increases.
If one or more of these symptoms appear on a sustained basis, it is recommended to visit a specialized dental clinic to obtain an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. It is important to detect the cause and initiate treatment before dry mouth leads to infection and damage to the body.
Tests for the diagnosis of xerostomia
At the consultation, the specialist will perform an intraoral clinical examination and review the patient’s medical history. If the case requires it, he will perform a sialometry to measure the amount of saliva in the oral cavity or a salivary gland biopsy to detect inflammation or damage to the glandular tissue.
What is the treatment to treat Xerotomia and improve dry mouth?
The treatment necessary to improve xerostomia will always depend on the origin or cause of the xerostomia, as well as whether it is a reversible or irreversible xerostomia. However, here are some of the most common solutions to dry mouth:
- Identify and reduce or change as much as possible the medications that are causing the xerostomia, always under the consultation and collaboration of the physician who has recommended them.
- Encourage the intake of foods that stimulate salivary secretion such as citrus and dairy products, and avoid foods that increase dry mouth such as caffeine.
- Use betaine, aloe vera or fluoride moisturizing products in oral hygiene to moisturize the oral cavity and stimulate salivary secretion.
- Avoid mouthwashes containing alcohol, as they increase salivary dryness.
- Encourage intake of fluids and hydrating salivary substitutes such as water, saline, milk or artificial saliva products.
- Malic acid products stimulate the salivary glands.
In the event of any of the above symptoms, the most important thing to do is to contact a dentist specializing in salivary glands, who will make an accurate diagnosis and periodic check-ups to analyze the evolution of xerostomia and personalize an effective treatment. Therefore, if you are in Barcelona or you can come to our office, we recommend our dentistry treatment in Barcelona, which will help you to solve this problem.