Dry Mouth: Causes Symptoms And Treatment
Dry mouth, also known as Xerostomia, When you dont make enough saliva, your mouth gets dry. The role played by saliva to keep the balance in the human body often goes unnoticed. It plays a significant role
- In managing the PH balance of your mouth
- To keep your taste sense alive
- To remove acidity from the mouth
- In preventing bacteria and fungal growth in the mouth
- In maintaining oral hygiene
If not for saliva, people will experience tooth decay, fungal infections, and many more problems leading to major health concerns. When the salivary glands do not generate enough saliva to maintain this delicate balance, it causes dry mouth or xerostomia.The condition commonly causes dry throat, bad breath, and chapped lips, leaving you feeling thirsty even after consuming enough liquids.Though it is not a severe medical condition, if left untreated, it can cause serious damage to your overall wellbeing, since the mouth is the entry point for supplying the energy required for the body.
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Prevention Of Dry Mouth
Dry mouth can be prevented by the following measures:
- Eating foods that require a lot of chewing
- Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids
- Avoid cigarettes, alcohol, spicy food and caffeinated drinks
- Visit your dentist regularly and maintain good oral hygiene
- Use an air humidifier while sleeping
- Chew sugar free gum often
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Role Of Saliva In Health And Well
Two primary functions of saliva concern its role in maintaining oral pH and microbiotic homeostasis, and facilitating swallowing and speaking.46 Saliva possesses antimicrobial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties which aid oral cleansing, protect against infection and support tissue repair it dilutes sugars and helps stabilize acidity it contributes to remineralization of dental enamel. It serves as a buffer for extremes of temperature or against noxious substances. It lubricates the oral cavity, thereby supporting formation and transport of the bolus to the pharynx. It acts as a first stage in digestion and stimulates interaction with chemosensory receptors to aid taste and smell perception. It supports smooth and accurate movement of the tongue and lips for speech.
What Lifestyle Changes Can I Make To Ease Parkinsons Symptoms
Exercise: Exercise helps improve muscle strength, balance, coordination, flexibility, and tremor. It is also strongly believed to improve memory, thinking and reduce the risk of falls and decrease anxiety and depression. One study in persons with Parkinsons disease showed that 2.5 hours of exercise per week resulted in improved ability to move and a slower decline in quality of life compared to those who didnt exercise or didnt start until later in the course of their disease. Some exercises to consider include strengthening or resistance training, stretching exercises or aerobics . All types of exercise are helpful.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet: This is not only good for your general health but can ease some of the non-movement related symptoms of Parkinsons, such as constipation. Eating foods high in fiber in particular can relieve constipation. The Mediterranean diet is one example of a healthy diet.
Preventing falls and maintaining balance: Falls are a frequent complication of Parkinson’s. While you can do many things to reduce your risk of falling, the two most important are: 1) to work with your doctor to ensure that your treatments whether medicines or deep brain stimulation are optimal and 2) to consult with a physical therapist who can assess your walking and balance. The physical therapist is the expert when it comes to recommending assistive devices or exercise to improve safety and preventing falls.
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Home Remedies For Dry Mouth
We can divide home remedies for curing dry mouth problems into four parts.
Saliva Preservation: This included developing healthy breathing practices such as breathing through the nose instead of the mouth. In case the patient has snoring problems, the doctor will suggest optimal sleeping positions and necessary measures to get rid of the problem to ensure more comfortable breathing patterns through the night. Avoiding alcohol and caffeine consumption and smoking can significantly reduce dry mouth.
Saliva substitution: Consuming more fluids like water, fruit, and vegetable juices without sugar and salt, sucking on ice chips, can help you avoid dry mouth. There are several oral care products like oral lubricants that act as saliva substitutes. These are to be taken under the doctors guidance to avoid long-term damage to the salivary glands and be over-dependent on these medicines.
Saliva Stimulation: Several stimulants like non-sugar chewing gum play a vital role in keeping the salivary gland active. Lozenges or chewable tablets also help stimulate saliva production in the mouth and thus avoid mouth dryness.
Prevention of Infections: Maintaining proper oral hygiene goes a long way in keeping infections at bay. Keeping up your dentist appointments, avoiding eating sugar candies, and other food that can damage your tooth and gums leading to disease frequently, are few measures to be taken personally to prevent dry mouth.
How Do I Prevent Falls From Common Hazards
- Floors: Remove all loose wires, cords, and throw rugs. Minimize clutter. Make sure rugs are anchored and smooth. Keep furniture in its usual place.
- Bathroom: Install grab bars and non-skid tape in the tub or shower. Use non-skid bath mats on the floor or install wall-to-wall carpeting.
- Lighting: Make sure halls, stairways, and entrances are well-lit. Install a night light in your bathroom or hallway and staircase. Turn lights on if you get up in the middle of the night. Make sure lamps or light switches are within reach of the bed if you have to get up during the night.
- Kitchen: Install non-skid rubber mats near the sink and stove. Clean spills immediately.
- Stairs: Make sure treads, rails, and rugs are secure. Install a rail on both sides of the stairs. If stairs are a threat, it might be helpful to arrange most of your activities on the lower level to reduce the number of times you must climb the stairs.
- Entrances and doorways: Install metal handles on the walls adjacent to the doorknobs of all doors to make it more secure as you travel through the doorway.
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What Are The Surgical Treatments For Parkinsons Disease
Most patients with Parkinsons disease can maintain a good quality of life with medications. However, as the disease worsens, medications may no longer be effective in some patients. In these patients, the effectiveness of medications becomes unpredictable reducing symptoms during on periods and no longer controlling symptoms during off periods, which usually occur when the medication is wearing off and just before the next dose is to be taken. Sometimes these variations can be managed with changes in medications. However, sometimes they cant. Based on the type and severity of your symptoms, the failure of adjustments in your medications, the decline in your quality of life and your overall health, your doctor may discuss some of the available surgical options.
Preventing Tooth Decay Due To Dry Mouth
Not only does saliva help digest food and make it possible for you to chew and swallow, it is the natural mouth cleanser. Without saliva, tooth decay and gum disease are more likely. If you have a dry mouth, to fight tooth decay and gum disease, you need to be extra careful about following good oral hygiene habits, which consist of:
- Brushing your teeth at least twice a day , after every meal and before bedtime
- Flossing your teeth every day
- Using a toothpaste that contains fluoride
- Visiting your dentist for a checkup and cleaning at least twice a year your dentist may recommend a daily fluoride rinse or fluoride gel to keep your teeth healthy.
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Use A Room Humidifier
If your living environment is overly dry, the lack of moisture in the air can contribute to dry mouth over time. It is therefore recommended to use a humidifier in your living or working space to raise the moisture quotient in the air. Breathing in this treated air can relieve the discomfort associated with dry mouth to a great extent.
A cold-air humidifier is especially helpful for mouth breathers as they sleep, as they tend to experience their worst symptoms at night.
Eating And Swallowing Problems And Parkinsons
Research suggests that eating and swallowing difficulties affect about a 90% of all people with Parkinsons. The true figure may be even higher as some people do not report the problem to their health care team.
Swallowing is a motor function that includes three stages.
- The first stage is the oral phase: food is chewed and mixed with saliva to form a soft ball called bolus. The tongue then pushes the bolus to the back of the mouth, triggering the swallow reflex.
- The second stage is the pharyngeal phase: it is the involuntary closure of the larynx by the epiglottis and vocal cords, which temporarily inhibites breathing. These actions prevent food from going ‘down the wrong pipe’ into the trachea .
- The third stage is the esophageal phase: the bolus moves into the esophagus, the muscular tube that contracts to push the bolus into the stomach.
Unfortunately, many people with Parkinsons experience swallowing problems due to reduced control and muscle tone of the jaw, lips, tongue and throat muscles, especially in later stages of the condition. Eating and swallowing becomes slower and requires more effort.
People with Parkinsons are at particular risk of aspiration due to a delay in the triggering of their swallow reflex. This compromises the effectiveness of the airway protection while swallowing. This can lead to aspiration pneumonia due to a lack of coughing if food enters the windpipe, allowing food to reach the lungs unchecked.
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Chew On Fennel Seeds As A Post
The fragrant properties of fennel seeds make it an effective agent against bad breath associated with dry mouth. It is richly supplied with flavonoids that help trigger the salivary glands into action and increase saliva flow.
- Munch on fennel seeds several times a day to treat dry mouth.
- You can also mix together equal amounts of fennel seeds and fenugreek seeds. Dry roast them in a pan, grind them thoroughly, and add a little salt. Eat 1/2 teaspoon of this mixture after each meal.
Reasons For Bad Breath
The use of medication doesn’t directly cause you to develop bad breath. Instead, the chemicals found in the medications inhibit the production of saliva by your salivary glands. According to the Indian Dental Association, saliva fights the growth of bacteria on your teeth. This makes it easier for acids from bacteria to attack your teeth. Without sufficient saliva to perform these tasks, the increased presence of bacteria in your mouth coupled with dry oral tissues produces the odour commonly associated with bad breath from dry mouth.
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Treatment Of Dry Mouth
Treatment for dry mouth is based on the cause.
Non-surgical method: The conventional method of treating dry mouth is to drink lots of water, suck ice cubes, chew sugar-free gum and maintain good dental hygiene by brushing your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste. Physicians may prescribe antibiotics and anti-fungal drugs if the cause of dry mouth is diagnosed due to infection. Artificial saliva substitutes and saliva stimulants available over-the-counter can also help. Your doctor may change or reduce the dose of medicine which is causing dry mouth or treat the underlying condition.
Surgical method: A calcified structure called a salivary gland stone may cause blockages in the salivary glands, preventing the normal secretion of saliva, which can in turn cause dry mouth. These stones can be surgically removed under local or general anaesthesia to facilitate normal secretion of saliva.
Underlying Causes Of Dry Mouth And/or Bad Breath
There are several causes of dry mouth and bad breath including, but not limited to:
- Daily use of medications that cause dry mouth
- Cancer treatment
- Illness, disease and their associated medications
- Infections of the mouth and respiratory system
- External agents, such as food or tobacco
As mentioned above, one of the most common causes of dry mouth and bad breath may be a side effect of taking medication for a variety of conditions. In fact, dry mouth is listed as a side effect for over 1,800 drugs that are used to treat conditions such as:
- Acid Reflux
- Liver or Kidney Problems
While there are some causes of dry mouth that can be avoided, such as tobacco, food, poor dental hygiene, etc., many other conditions and medications cause dry mouth as a side effect, which cannot be prevented. To help ward off bad breath and dry mouth as a side effect, the quickest and easiest form of treatment is to increase saliva flow through the use of XyliMelts for Dry Mouth.
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When To Start Medication Treatment
Medications do not cure or prevent Parkinsons disease progression. However, they are effective at suppressing symptoms. There is no consensus on when to start medication, however, most specialists recommend waiting until symptoms begin to interfere with daily activities before starting medications.
Assessment Of Saliva Flow
Evaluation of saliva flow is challenged by a range of issues, including: difficulty obtaining objective measures in naturalistic settings time and place variability that exists in respect of natural variation in flow rates fluctuations in motor function experienced by pwPD that can impact on swallowing and saliva control the variety of situations across pwPD concerning where they experience difficulties or not and the subjective nature of whether an individual perceives there to be a problem present or not. Similar to other activity limitations in PD such as dysphagia and dysarthria, perceived magnitude of psychosocial impact of drooling, dry mouth and excess saliva does not necessarily correlate significantly with objective measures of saliva flow and loss.3,19,6567
These factors underline that no single assessment captures all dimensions important for establishing baseline and outcome measures of salivation/drooling. Accordingly, outcome evaluation covers a range of measurements, with a focus on key variables that encompass the patients own chosen concerns and goals.
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Why Dry Mouth Needs To Be Treated
Saliva neutralizes the acids from bacteria in the mouth, the foods you eat, and the beverages you drink. It also makes chewing and swallowing easier and aids digestion. If your mouth is dry however, the acids in your mouth are more concentrated and are more likely to cause tooth decay and gum disease. Also, the chances of tooth decay increase because food particles are more likely to linger in a dry mouth.
Saliva is also necessary to help your teeth absorb key minerals including calcium and fluoride. Without enough saliva, your teeth can become weaker and vulnerable to damage.
Additionally, when your mouth lacks proper lubrication due to insufficient saliva production, you have a greater risk of contracting thrush and parts of the mouth including the tongue and gums can become swollen and inflamed. And, this provides the perfect environment for germs to breed and cause bad breath.
Managing Medication Side Effects
Most medications to treat Parkinsons disease are well tolerated, however, people may experience side effects. It is important to discuss side effects with your physician as there are many ways to address them.
- Nausea: We do not prescribe standard anti-nausea medications to patients with Parkinsons disease since it blocks dopamine in the brain, which can make symptoms worse. Some patients experience nausea as a side effect of dopamine-controlling medications. We recommend that you try taking your medication with meals that do not contain protein. If that does not work, we can adjust your medications to minimize nausea. Most people find that the side effect wears off or they can prevent nausea and continue to benefit from their medications.
- Excessive Sweating: Excessive sweating is an occasional side effect of levodopa. We can adjust your medication regimen to treat this symptom in several ways, for example, by reducing your levodopa dose or adding a dopamine agonist.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine
- Advanced research is underway to find neuroprotective drugs or supplements that can prevent or slow down nerve cell damage to stop the disease from progressing. Please discuss with your physician before taking any drug-supplements.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease
Symptoms of Parkinsons disease and the rate of decline vary widely from person to person. The most common symptoms include:
Other symptoms include:
- Speech/vocal changes: Speech may be quick, become slurred or be soft in tone. You may hesitate before speaking. The pitch of your voice may become unchanged .
- Handwriting changes: You handwriting may become smaller and more difficult to read.
- Depression and anxiety.
- Sleeping disturbances including disrupted sleep, acting out your dreams, and restless leg syndrome.
- Pain, lack of interest , fatigue, change in weight, vision changes.
- Low blood pressure.
How Is Parkinsons Disease Diagnosed
Diagnosing Parkinsons disease is sometimes difficult, since early symptoms can mimic other disorders and there are no specific blood or other laboratory tests to diagnose the disease. Imaging tests, such as CT or MRI scans, may be used to rule out other disorders that cause similar symptoms.
To diagnose Parkinsons disease, you will be asked about your medical history and family history of neurologic disorders as well as your current symptoms, medications and possible exposure to toxins. Your doctor will look for signs of tremor and muscle rigidity, watch you walk, check your posture and coordination and look for slowness of movement.
If you think you may have Parkinsons disease, you should probably see a neurologist, preferably a movement disorders-trained neurologist. The treatment decisions made early in the illness can affect the long-term success of the treatment.
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