Are you experiencing dry mouth and concerned that you may be expelling bad breath along the way? Is your mouth so dry that your lips are sticking to your teeth? Ah, that dreaded cottonmouth, medical folks say it’s xerostomia.
Your saliva, aka spit, is delivered into to your mouth via the salivary gland ducts. Saliva’s function is a lot more than keeping your mouth wet to avoid cotton mouth or bad breath. It also:
- helps digest food
- cleans your mouth
- protects teeth from decay
- moistens food for ease of chewing/swallowing
- prevents infection by controlling bacteria and fungi
Problems with salivary glands can cause the glands to become irritated and swollen. This causes symptoms such as:
Causes for dry mouth or salivary gland problems include:
- viral infection
- radiation therapy
- bacterial infection
- Parkinson’s disease
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- burning mouth syndrome
- nervous, upset, under stress
- some medications ~ high blood pressure, depression
An obstruction may result if the chemicals in your saliva crystallize into a salivary stone and block the ducts. Treatment resolution includes manual removal by your doctor or dentist, and in rare cases surgery.
Salivary gland infections may be caused by a virus or bacteria. Most salivary gland infections will resolve on their own.
However, if you are experiencing a fever also, this may indicate a bacterial infection. One course of treatment for this is antibiotics. This would require you to pay your doctor a visit for relief.
If your chronic dry mouth is caused by a medication, dosage adjustment or change may be in order for relief treatment. Notify your doctor if your cotton mouth persists, since you now know there is much more to saliva than just a wet mouth.
Natural dry mouth remedies for relief include:
- warm salt water gargle
- avoid sticky, sugary foods
- avoid alcohol, tobacco, caffeine drinks
- drinking lemon water helps increase salivary output
- drink water with your meals when your saliva output is low
- sugarless gum/hard candy helps stimulate saliva flow, especially citrus, cinnamon, mint-flavored
We all experience occasional bouts with dry mouth. Adhering to a healthy oral hygiene routine helps reduce your chances for dry mouth complications as a result.