DRY MOUTH & SALIVA


Dry Mouth and the Importance of Saliva

About 20% of the population suffer from dry mouth symptoms, affects women more and increases with age and people in nursing homes. Dry mouth is made worse with the more medication (Polypharmacy) some one takes.

What Is Dry Mouth?

Xerostomia: is the subjective feeling that you have a dry mouth.
Although people with Xerostomia feel that their mouth is dry it, does not autmatically mean they have no saliva. They may or may not have adequate saliva. A person may complain of dry mouth even though they can produce normal salivary flow.

Salivary Gland Hypofunction (SGH): is a condition when there is reduced salivary flow.
Unstimulated Saliva flow rate is less than 0.1-0.2ml/min. and
Stimulated Saliva       flow rate is less than 0.7ml/min.
Most people with SGH complain of dry mouth but this is not always the case.

Xerostomia with or without SGH has a major impact on a person’s oral health and quality of life.
Xerostomia Symptoms
Halitosis (Bad Breath)
Oral Soreness from teeth or dentures rubbing on tongues and lips due to loss of salivary lubrication
Ulcers from rubbing
Burning Tongue and general burning sensation
Difficulty swallowing food
Difficulty talking
Altered taste

Importance of Normal Saliva Flow
Saliva has many important functions to maintain a person’s health.  Some of saliva’s function are:
Fight bacteria and fungal infections
Digest food
Remineralise teeth with Calcium and Phosphate to prevent decay and teeth sensitivity
Maintain normal pH so that the mouth does not become acidic. An acidic mouth encourages aggressive bacteria to grow causing gum infections and decay
Lubricate the mouth to allow speech and swallowing

Salivary Gland Hypofunction (SGH) Symptoms
Very dry mouth
Difficulty eating and swallowing
Increased decay (caries) patterns, especially root decay (root caries)
Rampant decay when no saliva is present
Increased oral infections including candidiasis (thrush or fungal infections)
Difficulty retaining dentures
Mouth ulcers