Saliva: it’s all about saliva.
I don’t really know how a car engine works, but I know that oil is a big part of it. I believe that it acts as a lubricant.
You can look at saliva in a similar way…as a lubricant which enables normal functioning of the oral cavity and also provides certain benefits. If saliva is not present or the amount of it is diminished, some normal physiologic processes can be thrown off.
Let’s look at the role that saliva plays in your mouth.
Saliva is needed to
- Remove food and debris
- Neutralize acids produced by bacteria which prevents from decaying
- Helps to digest food as well as chew and swallow it
- Provides disease fighting substances in the mouth
Here are 7 reasons why salivary flow would be reduced
- Side effects of taking prescription and non-prescription medication. i.e. cold (anti-histamine, decongestants); depression, anxiety; pain; high blood pressure
- Diseases- Sjorgens Syndrome, Aids, Diabetes
- Decreased functioning of the salivary glands – caused by radiation to the head and neck and chemotherapy
- Nerve damage to the head and neck area
- Dehydration – caused by fever, persistent sweating and diarrhea
- Salivary gland removal
What are the symptoms of dry mouth?
- Thirsty, dry feeling, sticky feeling in the mouth
- Mouth sores, burning in mouth and on tongue
- Difficulty speaking, swallowing or tasting
- Sore throat, dry nasal passages
- Bad breath
- Cracked lip
What is the result of the above symptoms?
- Tooth decay
- Mouth infections (thrush)
- Difficulty wearing dentures
The goal of treatment is to promote salivary flow: How do we do this?
1) Sugar free candy or gum
2) Mouth rinses with fluoride and fluoridated tooth pastes
3) Artificial saliva
4) Increased intake of water or sugarless drinks
5) Breathe through your nose…avoid the mouth
6) Humidifier to increase moisture in the air
7) Change medications or dosages
8) Avoid caffeine i.e. coffee or tea, which cause dehydration
9) Avoid tobacco, alcohol for the very same reason
10) Avoid spicy or salty food
As you can see, dry mouth is a very serious issue. The good news is that it can be managed!
Do you or someone you know suffer from dry mouth? Our dental clinic in Brampton can help you determine the cause of your dry mouth and how to treat it. Call today for an appointment at 905.791.3867. We serve kids, teens, adults and seniors. Walk-ins, new patients and emergencies are welcome.