Oral health: Dry mouth could be indicative of a brain degenerative condition – signs

Children's Oral Health

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Oral health is not normally a cause for concern until unusual and peculiar changes begin to occur. Dry mouth can have a big impact on a person’s everyday life making eating and speaking more difficult which could also increase the risk of bad breath or even tooth decay. A dry mouth could also be a symptom of a more serious brain degenerative condition.

Saliva does more than just keep the mouth wet-it helps digest food, protects teeth from decay, prevents infection by controlling bacteria in the mouth, and makes it possible for a person to chew and swallow.

Dry mouth is usually caused by a reduced salivary flow or by changes in the biochemical composition of saliva.

Those suffering from dry mouth usually complain about difficulties when chewing, swallowing or even speaking but could it be indicative of a more serious health condition?

In a study published in the National Library of Health, dry mouth being a precursor for other health conditions was investigated.

The study noted: “Everyone has a dry mouth once in a while, especially if you’re nervous, upset or under stress.

“But if you have a dry mouth all or most of the time, it can be uncomfortable and can lead to more serious health problems or indicate that a more serious medical condition may exist. 

“Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurologic disease of the brain leading to the irreversible loss of neurons and the loss of intellectual abilities, including memory and reasoning.

“This can become severe enough to impede social or occupational functioning.

“Alzheimer’s disease can cause frequent dehydration, therefore dry mouth is a problem in Alzheimer’s patients, particularly in the later stages.”

Dry mouth can be due to certain health conditions, such as diabetes, stroke, yeast infection (thrush) in your mouth or Alzheimer’s disease, or due to autoimmune diseases, such as Sjogren’s syndrome or HIV/AIDS.

Snoring and breathing with your mouth open also can contribute to dry mouth.

Tobacco and alcohol use are also known to further perpetuate dry mouth.

Dry mouth isn’t a serious medical condition on its own.

However, it’s sometimes a symptom of another underlying condition that requires treatment. It can also lead to complications, like tooth decay and mouth sores.

Since dry mouth is particularly pervasive among seniors, and many people with Alzheimer’s may not communicate any issues, it’s important to monitor oral health and eating habits.

If you suspect there is a discomfort from dry mouth contact your GP or local dentistry service for further tests.

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