There can be a lot of health complications that may arise as people get older. This fact is considered as a part of a person’s natural aging process because a person’s body tends to get weak as one grows older. Body organs and a person’s body systems (digestive, nervous, circulatory, etc.) are more prone to illnesses, simply because of the length of time a person lives. At this stage, people should be extra careful on their diet, more aware on their everyday medications, and on their way of living.
Specifically, a common problem among older adults would be experiencing lack of saliva, or dry mouth. Xerostomia, in medical terms, refers to a decrease in the amount of saliva in a person’s mouth. Often ignored, this condition affects the mouth itself by not moistening the mouth as we all normally do. This health condition prevents saliva from continually secreting into our mouth, therefore making it hard to swallow and digest, speak, chew, kiss, make love, even sing. Saliva protects and nourishes a person’s teeth, lips, mouth, and esophagus. Lacking saliva would do damage to these parts, and without adequate saliva to lubricate one’s mouth, wash away food, and neutralize acids produced by plaque, extensive decay can arise. Dry mouth is encountered mostly by older people and mostly women.
Several factors are involved when a person has dry mouth. Certain prescription medications produces dry mouth as a side effect, such as for high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, weight loss, allergies, pain, muscle relaxants, urinary incontinence drugs, medications for Parkinson’s disease, and antihistamines. Actually, over a thousand medications can cause dry mouth, and the more drugs a person takes, the more chances of having this kind of condition. Decreased saliva or dry mouth is also associated with a number of psycho logic and medical conditions. A noticeable disease that causes oral dryness would be having Sjogren’s Syndrome, a condition that is characterized by generalized dryness of the salivary and other similar glands. Other diseases that may result in dryness would be AIDS, dehydration, diabetes, and bone marrow transplants. Another cause for dry mouth would be through therapeutic irradiation. This treatment for certain cancers (head and neck) can include radiation that can damage the salivary glands, and eventually decreasing the production of saliva. Depression also contributes to having a dry mouth. People who are clinically depressed or those who become overly anxious have lower percentage of salivary flow. Other more natural causes would be aging (as mentioned earlier) and the decrease in a person’s ability to chew.
If dryness is from the intake of certain medications, it would be good to seek advice from the doctor who can possibly change your medication and reduce the dryness. A more simpler solution would be keeping the mouth moist. A person can do this by sipping water or any other sugar-free juices frequently. A person can also stimulate the flow of one’s saliva by eating foods which require mastication, chewing sugarless gum, by using diabetic-type candies, or by sucking on a cherry, olive pit, or the rind of a lemon or lime. Dry mouth should be given attention, and a consultation with a physician is advised when one feels dryness in the mouth.