Xerostomia: When Saliva Goes missing
Did you know our bodies produce roughly 1-2 liters of saliva every day? Peak production occurs in the late afternoon, dropping off dramatically during the night. But for nearly 30 million Americans, there’s never enough moisture produced, day or night. Chances are you or someone you care about struggles with this difficult condition.
Do you ever wake up and feel like you’ve been sucking on a cotton ball? Or that you just crossed the Sahara Desert without taking enough water? Everyone deals with a dry mouth occasionally. At night, your saliva glands reduce their output and little moisture flows into your mouth. Plus, mouth-breathing often dries you out a bit more. But as you wake up, saliva glands start pumping the first of 50 ounces of daily fluid supporting the first step of digestion. Soon everything feels back to normal
But what if you’re amongst the 10% of the population that deals with persistent dry mouth, known as xerostomia? No matter what you do, your mouth feels parched most of the time. Good saliva flow is easy to take for granted until you no longer have it. And for millions of people, the loss of mouth moisture is a serious quality-of-life issue.
Saliva is 99.5% water, but it also contains a host of components that support your health. Key enzymes, suspended in a mucous matrix that lubricates the mouth, comprise the first step in digestion. And other enzymes that destroy bacteria join the complex environment supported by healthy salivary flow. Electrolytes, along with specialized compounds like opiorphin, a pain-killing substance, help support a system that’s easy to take for granted when it works right. Furthermore, saliva helps buffer against acidity, a state that leaves teeth dangerously susceptible to rapid tooth decay.
Why Does This Happen?
Numerous causes lurk behind the scenes to hinder the reliable production of saliva. A few of the most common culprits to consider include:
If any of these possibilities could be behind your dry mouth problems, definitive solutions may be difficult to find. However, there are a few tips that will help you reduce both the discomfort and risk associated with xerostomia. Consider the following:
Many other tricks will help you adapt to the challenges of xerostomia. Our team will help customize solutions that increase your comfort and decrease your risk of dental problems associated with a dry mouth.