DRY MOUTH NOT PART OF AGEING, SAYS DENTIST
MAY 19, 2019 @ 1.15 PM
Dry mouth also called xerostomia and diminished salivary output is particularly prevalent among older people and can have a devastating effect on their day-to-day lives.
“Interestingly, output from the major salivary glands does not undergo significant decrements in healthy older people. It is not part of ageing and should be prevented and treated,” said Dr R. Balasubramaniam, Bala Dental Surgery.
He emphasised that while there are some data that show age-related changes in salivary constituents, other evidence points to age-stable production of salivary electrolytes and proteins in the absence of major medical problems and medication use.
“Clinicians should not attribute complaints of a dry mouth and findings of salivary hypofunction in an older person to his or her age; an appropriate diagnosis is required.
“Salivary disorders in the ageing population usually are caused by systemic diseases and their treatments - for example, anticholinergic medications or radiation therapy.
Numerous medical conditions such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, dehydration, medications - both prescription and non-prescription, head and neck irradiation and chemotherapy can cause or contribute to salivary gland diseases.
The first step in treating xerostomia is establishing a diagnosis. This frequently involves a multidisciplinary team of health care practitioners among whom communication is critical, because many older people have concomitant medical problems and polypharmaceutical complications.
A low-sugar diet and daily use of topical fluorides and antimicrobial mouthwash are critical to help prevent dental caries.
Drink more water. Carry a water bottle with you, and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Your mouth needs constant lubrication.
Use sugar-free gum or lozenges to stimulate saliva production.
Get a humidifier to help keep moisture in the air.
Lastly, avoid foods and beverages that irritate dry mouths such as coffee, alcohol, carbonated soft drinks and acidic fruit juices.
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