Dry mouth (xerostomia) has several causes. If your mouth is consistently dry, the symptoms can be annoying or startling. In addition to having a dry mouth, you might experience the following signs and symptoms:
Dry Mouth Signs and Symptoms
- Bad breath
- Burning sensation in the mouth
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty talking
- Gasping for air
- Sensitivity to acidic or spicy foods
- Swollen glands
Depending on the results of your examination, along with your symptoms, two different tests can be performed.
Saliva production test
Your dentist can provide an oral examination to determine your saliva production. You will be asked to spit into a cup over 5 to 15 minutes. Or a suction device will be used to extract saliva from your mouth. If your saliva production is below average, another test might be scheduled.
Salivary gland function scan
The medical term for the scan is parotid gland scintigraphy. The scan is performed in a hospital imaging department or an out-patient facility. What’s involved?
- You will receive an injection of low-level radioactive tracer.
- You’ll sit in front of a gamma scintillation camera, which will detect the progression of the radioactive marker in your glands and take pictures of the glands.
- After 45 minutes, you’ll be given a lemon drop or something similarly sour that will cause your salivary glands to empty.
- After your glands empty, more images will be taken.
The scan will find the cause of decreased saliva production, including these possibilities:
- A tumor
- A cyst
- An infection
- A blocked salivary duct
- Sjögren’s syndrome
Other Causes of Dry Mouth
In addition to the causes listed above, dry mouth can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Breathing through your mouth
- Cancer treatment – particularly head or neck radiation therapy
- Certain medications prescribed for:
- Acid reflux or stomach acid
- High blood pressure
- Muscle cramps
- Parkinson’s disease
- Sleep disorder
- Parkinson’s disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Are You Experiencing Dry Mouth?
If you’re experiencing the symptoms of dry mouth, schedule an appointment with your dentist for an exam and the first stage of testing. Your dentist and medical doctor will work together to find the cause and appropriate treatment.
This post is sponsored by Naperville dentist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.