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Bad breath is not just a result of poor dental hygiene. In certain cases, it can be caused by dry mouth. Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, refers to a condition where the salivary glands do not produce enough saliva to keep the mouth wet. Saliva plays important roles in the body’s functions, from digestion to protecting the teeth. Saliva moistens and cleanses mouths. It is a necessary part of the digestion process. Saliva helps moisten and break down food. It also works a major defence mechanism to help maintain good dental health. It protects the mouth against gum disease and tooth decay. Saliva also prevents infection by controlling bacteria and fungi in the mouth.

Dry mouth occurs when there isn’t enough saliva made. This can lead to the mouth getting dry and uncomfortable. Xerostomia causes a parched, or dry, feeling in the mouth. On its own, dry mouth isn’t a serious medical condition. However, it can lead to other complications like tooth decay. It could also be a symptom of another underlying medical problem that requires treatment. Symptoms of dry mouth include:

• Frequent thirst

• Cracked lips

• Sores in the mouth

• Sores or split skin at the corners of the mouth

• Saliva that seems thick and stringy

• Bad breath

• Problems wearing dentures

• A sticky, dry feeling in the mouth

• Dry or sore throat and hoarseness

• Dry or grooved tongue

• Dry, red, raw tongue

• A changed sense of taste

• Difficulty speaking or trouble tasting, chewing and swallowing

• Dry nasal passages

• A burning or tingling sensation in the mouth, especially on the tongue

Dry mouth may lead to increased plaque, tooth decay and gum disease. It may cause sores and yeast infections in the mouth. It may also lead to poor nutrition from having problems with chewing and swallowing. Dry mouth can be caused by several factors. Some causes for dry mouth include:

• Dehydration: Conditions that lead to dehydration such as fever, excessive sweating, diarrhoea, blood loss, vomiting, and burns can cause dry mouth.

• Medication: Dry mouth can be a side effect of certain medications. These include over-the-counter drugs used to treat depression, anxiety, and high blood pressure. Antihistamines, tranquilisers, appetite suppressants, muscle relaxants and sedatives can also cause dry mouth.

• Recreational drugs: Using marijuana and methamphetamines can also lead to dry mouth. Methamphetamine use can cause severe dry mouth and damage to teeth, a condition is also known as "meth mouth."

• Tobacco and alcohol use

• Aging

• Surgical removal of salivary glands

• Other health conditions: Certain diseases like diabetes, stroke, and autoimmune diseases like Sjogren's syndrome or HIV/AIDS can cause dry mouth.

• Breathing through the mouth.

Dry mouth is often a temporary and treatable condition. If dry mouth is caused by medication, consult your doctor for possible changes. If it is caused by some other underlying condition, you may require additional treatment. Some tips to relieve the symptoms of dry mouth include:

• Maintaining proper oral care, including brushing and flossing regularly. Regular dental checkups are also recommended.

• Hydrate often, drink plenty of water and keep your mouth moist.

• Breathe less through the mouth as much as possible.

• Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Avoid tobacco and alcohol consumption. Reduce caffeine. Limit sugar and salt intake.

• Use over-the-counter toothpaste, mouthwashes, and mints.

• Use a humidifier or a room vaporizer in the bedroom to add moisture to the bedroom air.

• Chewing sugarless gum or sucking on sugarless hard candy and ice cubes can help dry mouth.

• Use an over-the-counter artificial saliva substitute.

At Naseem al Rabeeh, we provide you with the best care at our dental centre in Wakrah, Doha and Al Rayyan. Our team of highly-qualified doctors provides you with quality care that is also comprehensive. Head over to one of our clinics to get a consultation. Ensure the best health for yourself and your family.

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