Salivation is an important process in the human body. It ensures a normal state of the oral mucosa, gums, teeth, and tongue. What happens if there is insufficient salivation? Not only will you be thirsty, but develop a dangerous xerostomia disease.

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Salivation helps us to digest food and taste food. With its help, the remains of food are removed from the teeth and acid plaque is neutralized, which prevents the destruction of the teeth. Saliva protects the mucous membrane of the mouth from drying out. It also plays a key role in the body's immune defense. With a lack of saliva in the mouth, which is known to have bactericidal properties, the risk of developing infections of the oral cavity and nasopharynx increases. Knowing the main causes behind chronic dryness in the mouth, the so-called xerostomia, as well as its symptoms and methods of treatment, will help you maintain healthy teeth and oral cavity.

Credit: Freepik

Credit: Freepik

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Dry mouth: basic signs and causes

Dryness in the mouth causes a lot of unpleasant sensations, with the feeling of discomfort manifesting in the most unexpected way. For example, dry mouth can cause a “burning tongue” sensation. Inadequate salivation gives a person a lot of inconvenience: stickiness and dry mouth, difficulty with speaking, eating and swallowing, bad breath, constant coughing. Tonsillitis becomes frequent, the voice becomes hoarse, lips dry out, crack and are covered with crusts. The tongue gets dry and heavy. Ulcers develop on the oral mucosa.

Once it was believed that xerostomia is an age-related phenomenon, a sign of approaching old age. But doctors are well aware that older people often take a variety of different medicines, which are the real culprits of this kind of dryness. There are more than 400 of them.

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In general, the above-listed problems are caused by the following pharmacological groups:

painkillers

diuretics

antihypertensive

antidepressants

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Credit: Freepik

antihistamines

cures for asthma

muscle relaxants.

The side effects may worsen if several of these drugs are used simultaneously.

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The drug factor is not the only one among the factors causing xerostomia. Irradiation in the head and neck, chemotherapy can also have a negative effect on the salivary glands, for example, when it becomes too thick. Sometimes xerostomia can be caused by damage to the nerves responsible for the activation of the salivary glands, as well as by such common diseases as Sjogren's syndrome or diabetes.

With Sjogren's syndrome, the glands of external secretion are affected, primarily salivary and lacrimal that begin to secrete less of the corresponding secretion. According to approximate estimates, this autoimmune disease affects from 400 thousand to 3.1 million people a year. It is more common in women than in men. In Sjogren's syndrome, in addition to dry mouth, dryness is observed in the nose, throat, enlargement of salivary glands and lymph nodes, inflammation of the eyes, swelling of the eyelids, hoarseness of the voice, caries. As the disease progresses, it affects other organs: joints, muscles, liver, pancreas, stomach.

Credit: Freepik

Credit: Freepik

In case of diabetes, at high glucose levels, patients also often complain of severe dry mouth. It can be caused by the intake of hypoglycemic drugs. The occurrence of dryness can also be explained by problems with nasopharynx, stress, infection. Smoking itself does not cause xerostomia, but it creates favorable conditions for this. In any case, if you suffer from xerostomia, contact your doctor or dentist. In the case of a non-medical cause of dryness in the mouth, the doctor can identify undiagnosed diabetes or Sjogren's syndrome.

A dentist can also help you solve the most difficult issues associated with oral disease. Regular examinations at the dentist will reduce the negative effects of xerostomia. After all, it requires careful daily care of the oral cavity. When you don’t have the opportunity to brush your teeth with a toothbrush and floss, be sure to rinse your mouth after eating. Abundant drinking of water during the day can significantly improve the condition of the oral cavity. Use alcohol-free, antiseptic rinse solutions daily.

Healthy salivary glands secrete up to 3 liters of saliva per day. It is necessary both to neutralize the acidity of food, which can destroy the teeth, and to moisten it, which facilitates chewing and swallowing food.

Credit: Freepik

Credit: Freepik

A few tips for increasing the secretion of saliva:

Keep hard candies and sugarless chewing gum at hand;

Use lemon or dairy products to stimulate salivation;

Drink up to 1.5 liters of water during the day;

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When eating, drink water or milk;

Keep an air humidifier on during sleep;

Do not drink very sour, salty and sugary drinks;

Limit the use of caffeinated drinks;

Be careful with the medicines you use, do not self-medicate;

Do not forget to visit your dentist and your doctor regularly. Take care of your health.

Credit: Freepik

Credit: Freepik

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