A reduced production of saliva results in the condition called dry mouth, it is medically known as xerostomia, this condition comes about because the salivary glands stop working properly, and very little saliva is formed. Additionally medical techniques and some kind of medications can also give rise to this condition, at the same time it can be because of various diseases and due to a number of medical treatments, such as radiation and chemotherapy treatment. For example a retardation in salivation and a dry mouth is a common side effect of more than 500 drugs, this includes drugs used for the treatment of allergic reactions and allergy, medications for depression, high blood pressure, and Parkinson's disease. It becomes hard to speak, taste and swallow when there is dry mouth. A dry mouth can add to infection and tooth decay and thus have an effect on oral health.
This condition is often a typical part of the aging process, and was regarded as being inherent to the aging process as was the resulting gum disease and the loss of teeth during aging. This cannot be true as it is now confirmed that healthy old people produce as much saliva as young adults. Thus this condition is not normal for any age group. The many and various symptoms of dry mouth include a burning sensation in the tongue, a difficulty and hindrance in consuming dry foods, a problem faced when wearing dentures, when speaking, being very thirsty and an impaired sense of taste, the physical signs include dry and cracked lips and dry skin at the corners of the mouth.
Sjogren's syndrome is one of the most common causes of dry mouth, this syndrome results from an attack on the salivary glands by an overactive immune system. There may in addition be dryness on the skin besides the mouth, this condition can produce extremely pain in the eyes from them drying out, other signs could include blurred vision; tiredness and fatigue; there could also be recurrent bouts of canker sores; the disappearance of vaginal lubrication in women is one of the first signs of this syndrome. This condition can also badly affect the internal organs. The warning signs of the syndrome include the presence of cavities and gum disease in the mouth despite good oral hygiene.
The action of herbal supplements in the treatment of dry mouth is in two ways: one is in helping get relieve from the inflammation that might set in, and the other function is to stimulate the salivary glands and increase the rate of salivation. The general rule in the utilization of these supplements is the more the better, this rule must however be kept within the limits given below, keeping the mouth moist is the best answer and the chances of further complications developing are lessened.
Supplements and herbs
Dosages of the herbs such as prickly ash tincture can be utilized in volumes of about 10-20 drops in a 1/4 cup of water, this preparation can be consumed about 3-7 times a day. This herb is effective in the simulation of salivation, in people who have dry mouth that has been caused by unrelated radiation treatment to cure some other disease. Oral irritation is also prevented when this herb is used. Use can also be made of the tea made out of the slippery elm –available loose or bagged in the market. This tea can be prepared and drunk when needed, and according to the instructions given on the packet, the major action of the slippery elm is that it can greatly reduce the discomfort felt in the mouth. Another herb that can be used for treatment is Solomon's seal this can be taken in the form of Probotannix capsules in dosages of about 1,000-2,000 mg a day, the main action is that it eases the discomfort and relieves the dry mouth that has been brought on because of the use of medications for other diseases and ailments.
Additional things you may do
Drink or sip water often to relieve the dryness in the mouth. It is better to continue taking little sips of water than gulping down glassfuls at a time, the reason being that the mouth has to be kept moist, and sipping water slowly performs this function better than drinking a glass of water all a once. Some foodstuffs and condiments that must be avoided to afford a better chance of recovery or prevention from dry mouth are all kinds of sugary snacks, caffeinated beverages, the use of tobacco, and the consumption of alcohol, these factors can all increase the dryness felt in the mouth. Chewing gum should preferably be of the sugar-free type. The secretion of saliva is mildly stimulated by chewing gum. A saliva substitute can be used. Most drugstores and pharmacies will have these products. Plaque must be controlled via a good program. Dry mouth often results because of heavy plaque accumulation. For the cases of dry mouth coming on because of radiation treatments, many doctors recommend pilocarpine. The same chemicals present in pilocarpine are also seen in the herbal extract jaborandi; this herb was in fact the original source of the medication. Dry mouth results as a almost natural part of many cancer therapies, particularly those that give radiation to the head and neck or in some forms of chemotherapy, all of these causes dry mouth and other related problems, like tooth decay, the appearance of painful mouth sores, and the cracking and peeling of the lips. All necessary dental work in the mouth must be completed beforehand in those individuals going in for cancer therapy. The advice given by the dentist on how to care for the teeth and mouth before, during, and after the cancer treatment, should be listened to and the advice followed, this will help in the prevention or reduction of the potential oral problems that can occur. There are also some cases where acupuncture treatments has been able to increase salivation in patients searching for relief from dry mouth, sustained during radiation treatment or Sjogren's syndrome. In this treatment, a total of twenty-four sessions are necessary to improve on the symptoms of dry mouth. Those who can derive the maximum benefit from the treatment through acupuncture are those people who have an increased salivation after taking the herb-derived drug pilocarpine. Certain types or groups of people are also at risk from developing thrush, an oral yeast infection. This includes persons who have HIV, those with dry mouth due to radiation or medical treatment. Thrush appears as white blotches in the roof of the mouth on the palate. Thought the thrush on the palate inside the mouth is painless, sometimes it can result in painful cracking of the skin at the corners of the mouth, this can be very uncomfortable.
Other beneficial herbs