Do you know anyone who suffers from xerostomia? Well, prepare yourself. You’re about to. And the person who suffers could very likely be you.
Xerostomia is also known as dry mouth. It’s the dry, sticky feeling in the mouth that is the result of reduced saliva, and it can cause difficulty with chewing, swallowing, and speech. Dry mouth is an unpleasant condition for anyone of any age. Research has shown, however, that the occurrence of dry mouth increases with age. A study of Swedish adults a few years ago showed that among people in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, only about one-fifth or fewer reported dry mouth symptoms. But from age 60, the rate of occurrence was nearly 30 percent—and went up from there. Dry mouth is also more common for women than for men.
Or, as of our dental professional advisors recently put it, 10,000 people will turn 65 every day for the next 20 years. As we get into our 60s many medications create dry mouth. Patients are finding relief from the annoying symptoms of dry mouth with PerioSciences products.
Caused by illness
Although older people are more likely to report dry mouth, normal aging itself is not the major cause of dry mouth. Rather, underlying conditions or illness can bring on dry mouth. For example, hepatitis C, diabetes, sarcoidosis or Sjögren’s syndrome can cause dry mouth; so can Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and various infections.
Cancer and cancer treatment are also a major causes for xerostomia. Chemotherapy has the frequent side effect of xerostomia. Among people treated for head and neck cancers, dry mouth is virtually universal. Radiation treatment often causes permanent damage to the salivary glands and mucous membranes in the mouth.
Medications and dry mouth
Medications are even more common as a cause of dry mouth. There are more than 400 drugs that decrease salivation as a side effect. Just a few of these medications include antihistamines, antidepressants, decongestants, bronchodilators, antianxiety agents, and muscle relaxants. Fortunately, for most of these medications, the dry-mouth symptoms are usually temporary.
The same Swedish study found that as people aged, they were more likely to take some kind of medications. Similarly, the older people became, the number of medications they took also increased. Whether it’s due to illness or medication, xerostomia is bound to become a typical affliction for our aging population.
Treating the symptoms
Besides the unpleasant feeling of dry mouth, a lack of saliva frequently leads to dental problems, such as cavities, gum disease and periodontitis. There are natural antibiotics and antioxidants in saliva that are an important part of the body’s natural defense system. With decreased saliva, people are more prone to oral infections as well as cavities. People with ongoing dry mouth may have bad breath, mouth sores, and decreased taste.
Other than eliminating the medications, is there any remedy for xerostomia? There are medications that can help stimulate salivation, and acupuncture has been reported to be helpful in some cases. Mostly, people use moistening agents and saliva substitutes, which offer temporary relief but often taste nasty.
Prescribed antibiotics may be helpful for active infections, but many dentists are now recommending topical antioxidants as well. Antioxidants neutralize the free radicals that are associated with infection and inflammation. They can help maintain a normal pH balance in the oral cavity, contributing to healthy tissues.
A growing number of dental practitioners whose patients use PerioSciences dental antioxidants report that these products provide significant relief for the discomfort of dry mouth.
PerioSciences now provides the Antioxidant Oral Care System HYDRATING, especially formulated to be helpful for dry mouth symptoms. The AO ProVantage dental gel, AO ProRinse mouth rinse, and AO ProToothpaste, flavored with essential oils and xylitol, are pleasant-tasting, cool and refreshing. The antioxidants, including phloretin, ferulic acid and green tea catechins, can nourish and soothe the oral tissues that lack saliva’s natural antioxidants.
As Bette Davis famously said, “Old age is not for sissies.” At least with PerioSciences oral antioxidants, the growing number of senior adults can fend off the old-age affliction of dry mouth.
To help keep the chemistry of your mouth in balance, consider using antioxidant-rich products like those offered by PerioSciences. To learn more about antioxidants in oral care, keep an eye on our blog. Also, be sure to connect with PerioSciences on Facebook and Twitter.