What Is Xerostomia Or Dry Mouth?
Xerostomia is the medical term for reduced saliva flow. Reduced saliva flow might lead to caries.
What Is Caries?
Caries, also known as cavity or tooth decay, is one of the most common diseases worldwide. It occurs when the sweet sticky substance we know as “sugar” binds to our Saliva and stays there for too long without being removed. If this happens, these sugars will remain in contact with the tooth surface, and they will stick to the enamel of our teeth.
Caries is defined as demineralization of the mineral content of dental tissue, most commonly the enamel. The principal organism responsible for caries is Mutans streptococci (MS).
Most of the unnoticed statistics reveal that one in four adults suffer from caries. This suggests that 20% of adult males and 20% of adult females have this condition. Dental caries sometimes referred to as fluorosis, is a severe form of oral tooth decay in which cavities develop on the soft tissue, gums, and bones near the jawline (the maxilla). The condition can be quite painful and, more commonly than not, leads to tooth loss.
What Is Saliva? Why Are Salivary Glands Important?
Saliva is one of our most important bodily secretions. Among its many important life-sustaining roles, Saliva plays a key part in breaking down food and aiding digestion, helping to protect teeth from decay, and strengthening the immune system.
Saliva is a watery fluid produced by three pairs of major salivary glands. Saliva contains the enzyme amylase, which begins carbohydrate digestion and helps neutralize the acid in the mouth, preventing cavities.
Causes Of Saliva Reduction:
- 1Reduced production of Saliva by the salivary glands,
- 2Increased swallowing of Saliva (secondary to irritation in mouth),
- 3Production of less Saliva when eating (eating sweets) and speaking (dry mouth makes talking difficult).
Effects On Mouth
- Caries can affect both the hard and soft tissues of the mouth
- There is a lack of Saliva in the mouth, which can lead to problems with taste and speaking.
- Causes pain or discomfort.
- Reduces the ability to chew food.
Effects On Teeth:
Caries-related tooth decay is an infectious disease caused by bacteria that damage tooth enamel, the hard outer surface of the teeth.
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- Maintain good oral hygiene- including regular brushing and flossing,
- The use of fluoride when indicated (e.g., in dental products),
- Limit between-meal snacking, which includes limiting eating sweets to less than ten times per day,
- Reduce the amount of time sugar-containing foods are in contact with teeth.
- Use xylitol or sorbitol chewing gum after meals to promote salivary flow, which rinses sugars from your mouth and enhances your ability to prevent decay naturally.
Factors Of Mutans Streptococci:
MS has several virulence factors, including an ability to stick to tooth surfaces, invade dental tissue, metabolize dietary sugar (especially glucose) into organic acids (the “acidogenic” property), and form biofilms. Although MS is not unique to humans, this microorganism has adapted to the human environment.
These factors explain why MS is at the root of most dental caries.
Diagnosis Of Caries:
Early diagnosis is critical to begin treatment before tooth structure is lost. For xerostomia patients, the diagnosis will be easier because of the observable clinical signs of Dry Mouth While Sleeping.
You can employ x-ray imaging and diagnostic tools such as electric probes to diagnose caries on a more precise level, which help identify lost tooth structure and microlesions in the teeth.
Dental Caries And Xerostomia: (Affected Areas)
Caries can affect both “hot spots” on teeth with greater tooth exposure and less exposed areas (teeth frequently under the tongue or at the back of the mouth). Hot spots for caries formation include pit and fissure regions on chewing surfaces.
Xerostomia patients should be more concerned about caries in their posterior teeth due to the greater risk of caries formation in these teeth.
Caries lesions identified early enough can be treated with non-invasive measures, including avoiding sugar and controlling bacteria levels through oral rinses or prescription antibiotics. If the lesions progress, a dentist may need to drill away the surface enamel to remove the decay.
Fluoride treatments are also available to help remineralize tooth enamel, protecting teeth from future caries attacks. The longer the lesion remains in the enamel before treatment, however, You will require more extensive dental work.
Causes of Xerostomia And Caries:
The risk of developing it increases with age. People in their thirties and forties are at a higher risk of developing the condition than younger people. Individuals with HIV, diabetes or a weak immune system are at a higher risk for developing oral caries. Smoking and alcohol abuse has been associated with increased risks of developing Xerostomia as well.
The Systematic Diseases Of Parotid Glands:
Parotid gland swelling can cause dry mouth by blocking the salivary glands from secreting Saliva into the oral cavity. This condition is known as sialadenitis and often causes a painful, burning sensation in the mouth.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus:
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can cause inflammation of the salivary glands. Inflammation either blocks or reduces saliva flow from the gland, resulting in a dry mouth.
Xerostomia occurs due to hard cancer medicines that are taken to treat cancer. They can reduce the number of saliva glands in your mouth. Some people who take these medicines may complain of a dry mouth, where this condition gets its name.
Radiation to treat cancer can also damage the salivary gland tissues. Radiation treatments are usually given to the head and neck regions because these areas are most likely affected by cancers.
This condition is also known as parotitis and can cause swelling of the salivary glands. Mumps inflames the salivary glands and interfere with saliva production. Swelling may block Saliva from flowing normally into the mouth, resulting in a dry mouth.
Salivary Gland Dysfunction:
Damage to the salivary glands can be caused by radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or surgery to remove tumors in the head and neck. It may also occur after a viral infection due to Sjogren’s syndrome. Other conditions that cause damage to salivary glands are :
- Sialolithiasis(Saliva forms a stone in the ducts).
- Sialoadenitis(inflammation of the gland).
- Neoplastic lesions.
The study found that women in their late thirties had significantly less Saliva than women in their early twenties. In addition, the amount of Saliva in the mouth may decrease because of excessive dry mouth caused by various conditions.
Blockage In Salivary Glands:
Saliva is not secreted due to salivary gland infection or when something or some substance blocks the ducts that connect saliva glands to the oral cavity. This condition is known as ductal obstruction. Causes include impacted teeth, root canal therapy, or a foreign body in the duct.
Sugary Or Acidic Foods:
Sometimes, dry mouth symptoms are caused by certain foods that you eat. A diet high in sugary or acidic food can trigger dry mouth symptoms. This is because the acid in food mixes with Saliva to break down tooth enamel and cause dental problems like cavities. Dry, sticky foods like cookies and crackers may also be more prevalent when experiencing symptoms of dry mouth.
People often suffer from a dry mouth if they breathe through the mouth instead of the nose because Saliva is not being distributed evenly throughout the mouth. In addition, breathing through the mouth dries out the membranes in the mouth, which some individuals may find more comfortable.
People who consume large amounts of caffeine can experience dry mouth symptoms because it causes the body to remove fluid from different places. One study found that after drinking two cola beverages with 250mg of caffeine each, there was a significant decrease in saliva production.
Heavy alcohol consumption or intake of spirits may result in dry mouth symptoms. Drinking alcohol reduces the flow of Ssalivain to the mouth, which is essential for chewing and digestion. The membranes in the oral cavity also become dry when alcohol enters the body, which can cause irritation that results in a burning sensation.
Other Factors Are:
Other factors that contribute to Xerostomia include:
- Prolonged standing or prolonged time in the dental chair,
- Being overweight or obese,
- Having poor oral hygiene,
- Smoking, and
- Mucosal trauma
Risk Factors Associated With Xerostomia:
Xerostomia can result from different underlying conditions.Inflamed gingiva or tissues near the back of the tongue can weaken the protective mucus layer, which allows bacteria to enter the oral cavity. This can cause the teeth to loosen and move toward the back of the throat, creating pockets and tears that promote bleeding into the tissues of the gums and teeth.
This is known as “canker-breathing” syndrome. If tooth decay is present, the decay will weaken the teeth and cause abscesses and caries. The dental health of children, especially those who are underweight or obese, is also at risk for dry mouth and caries.
How To Prevent Caries And Xerostomia?
Fluoride is considered a topical protectant against dry mouth and dental caries.Topical fluoride protects the teeth from acid produced by bacteria when sugars from foods are broken down in Saliva, which reduces demineralization of enamel and helps strengthen tooth surfaces.
Fluoride rinses are simple, low-cost solutions to combat dry mouth and caries.Fluoride rinse solutions require using a fluoride atomizing device to dispense a small amount of concentrated fluoride solution directly into the oral cavity. The contents of these devices typically consist of sodium fluoride or stannous fluoride.
Xylitol Chewing Gum:
Chewing xylitol-sweetened gum can promote saliva flow and reduce the risk of caries by reducing the number of bacteria in the oral cavity.
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that has been found to inhibit the growth of Streptococcus mutans (the primary cause of dental caries) and stimulate saliva flow.
Saliva Substitute As An Artificial Salivary Stimulant:
Saliva substitute is a liquid agent that can be applied to the oral cavity in place of natural Saliva.It reduces dry mouth symptoms and creates artificial Saliva that helps prevent dental caries by creating a buffer system that inhibits acid produced by bacteria when sugars from food break down.
Avoiding Sublingual Dosage Forms:
Sublingual drug dosage forms are absorbed through the mucus membranes, which reduces saliva flow in the mouth. You can use saliva substitutes or mouth rinses to reduce dry mouth symptoms associated with sublingual formulations.
Calcium And Phosphate:
A balanced healthy diet rich in calcium and vitamin D is essential for supporting enamel formation.
Calcium intake, especially through dairy sources, is beneficial for the dental health of children. Phosphate-rich foods (milk) also help strengthen tooth surfaces by providing minerals that assist with remineralization.
Treatments Of Xerostomia And Caries
Mild cases of Xerostomia may not require treatment. Treatment usually involves removing plaque, the tartar that makes it hard for Saliva to flow from the teeth and rinse out of the mouth. There are various methods for removing plaque; however, You should consult a dentist before any treatments are undertaken. In addition, oral antibiotics can reduce inflammation, relieve pain, prevent the formation of new tartar, and reduce swelling. These antibiotics are often used in conjunction with xerostomia inventory.
Patients need to report dry mouth and Xerostomia to their dental professionals for proper dental care. Each case of Xerostomia is different, but treatment must be geared to the specific needs of each individual. For gum disease, oral dryness or tooth sensitivity and mild Xerostomia, toothpaste, liquid Saliva, and routine dental xerostomia medications are usually effective
For more severe cases, xerostomia medications such as:
- Aspirin, and
- Oral potassium
A dentist will often prescribe them. In severe cases, you may require surgery for congestion and removal of infected tissue.
Visit Your Dentist Today!
Adults over age 50 who have dry mouth are at risk for developing caries. If you suffer from Xerostomia, schedule an appointment with your dentist to evaluate the possibility of developing dental decay.
Don’t let your Xerostomia cause caries. If you are suffering from dry mouth, schedule an appointment today!
Patients who exhibit symptoms of dry mouth and caries need to be vigilant about brushing regularly. Careless flossing or chewing food could cause plaque to build up between the teeth. Oral antibiotics can help prevent the buildup of plaque and cavities, while chewy, sticky plaque that sticks to the teeth can lead to abscesses and other oral infections. Dentists can assess patients’ oral health through Xerostomia and dental caries exams. A dentist can determine whether these factors are causing the symptoms or whether other conditions are responsible.