MANILA, Philippines – Unknown to many, having a dry mouth is a symptom of more serious medical conditions. A common cause of tooth decay and gum problems, dry mouth has been linked to complications such as cancer and severe dental infections.
Data based on a study by the World Health Organization reveals that an estimated 2.6 million Filipinos suffer from dry mouth. Dryness of the mouth is a result of a decreased or minimal flow of saliva, a natural bacteria inhibitor. This low supply could cause harmful forms of bacteria in the mouth to increase and multiply faster.
“Generally, dry mouth can be a result of certain underlying medical conditions or a side effect of certain medical treatment and drugs, anxiety, alcohol, dehydration, and trauma to nerve and salivary glands,” explained Dr. Jay Hansel I. Tabije of the Department of Dental Medicine at St. Jude Hospital.“More serious symptoms affecting oral health as a result of dry mouth are halitosis, dental caries, dental infections and gum disease.”
Most people treat dry mouth as a minor discomfort, when it may result to more serious complications. “Dry mouth can cause deleterious effects on oral health. Aside from contributing to the formation of rampant dental caries leading to more serious dental infections, oral desiccation can also cause mouth sores on denture-wearing patients.”
Otolaryngologist Dr. Natividad Almazan of East Avenue Medical Center also recommends people who suffer from dry mouth for more than two weeks to consult an ENT. “The diagnosis of oral and throat cancer can be delayed if not seen by a throat specialist because it can mimic simple cases of sore mouth and throat. Any patient with soreness and dryness of the throat for more than two weeks should consult a throat specialist.”
Symptoms of dry mouth include frequent thirst, sore in the mouth or cracked lips, dry feeling in the throat, dry tongue, and problems in speaking or difficulties in tasting, chewing, and swallowing. For people with dry mouth, doctors recommend drinking plenty of water; lessening intake of coffee, tea, and alcohol; avoiding food that are spicy and high in sugar; and using an anti-bacterial oral rinse to restore that mouth’s moisture and kill bacteria.
To treat dry mouth, doctors also highly recommend the regular use of dental hygiene products. Global brand Biotene has a wide range of oral care products created specially to effectively fight dry mouth. Products such as moisturizing gel, mouth spray, gums help moisturize and lubricate dry mouth, supplement some of saliva’s proteins and enzymes, and stimulate saliva to help clean and lubricate the mouth.
Like other medical conditions that may appear minor, dry mouth poses serious dangers to one’s health and should be treated urgently.