Why do I have a dry mouth? My mouth is so dry sometimes that it can become parched quickly and my speech isn’t always intelligible. There can be several possible reasons for a dry mouth, but it is more likely that you’ll have a dry mouth if you have an autoimmune disease. Swallowing and talking can be made more difficult if you have a severely dry mouth and if yours is a severely dry mouth, it is likely that you don’t leave the home without some form of liquid to drink. However, liquid doesn’t always relieve, or only relieves a dry mouth, temporarily.
1. Dry mouth (xerstomia) results from many things, including
- too much alcohol
- the disease, itself: Remember that if there’s one autoimmune disease, there is very likely to be another. (Sjogren’s Syndrome) and lupus often go ‘hand in hand’ though it is not surprising for any of the autoimmune diseases to coexist.
If the cause of dry mouth is autoimmunity, the body’s immune system mounts an attack on itself, and in particular, on the exocrine glands. Exocrine glands are the mucous producing glands, the salivary glands or sweat glands.
There might be an attack on the salivary glands would effect and diminish salivary function and result in dry mouth: A dry mouth results in less saliva to bathe the teeth and this not being able to bathe teeth in saliva can cause the mouth to become a harbor for food and bacteria that form plaque. In turn, plaque can trap more food and bacteria until cavities form.
It is harder to understand how the decrease in the amount of saliva interferes with digestion. The digestive process begins in the mouth, very much aided by saliva, continues through the esophagus and stomach and intestines; aided in part by salivary glands.
These exocrine glands aren’t just involved with saliva production. The same is true of tear production. Many patients with dry mouth also have dry eyes due to lack of tears formed.
There is also decreased moisture so women might have painful intercourse.
Many people benefit from saliva substitutes or from medications. One medication which assists the body in creating more saliva is called Salagen®. A dietary assistant might be lemon drop lozenges that should be ALCOHOL-FREE AND SUGAR-FREE. They should be alcohol-free, because alcohol is drying and the lozenge should be sugar-free, because in a dry mouth, sugar can wreak more havoc than it normally does. Lemon drops are also tart and their tartness also serves to flush secretions from the salivary gland, thereby preventing stagnation of the fluid. In this way, saliva is consistently flushed out and painful infections (infectious parotitis) are prevented.
There are also chewing gums, gels and mouthwashes which sometimes give the feeling that there is more saliva, or some which cause the ‘salivary juices to flow.’
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