Dry mouth is abnormal dryness resulting from decreased saliva. It can be caused by side effects of medications (too many to list!) or by salivary gland damage. Some conditions that cause problems with the salivary glands are Sjogren’s syndrome and cancer treatments that involve the head or neck.
Saliva helps begin process of digestion and lubricates your food so it can be chewed and swallowed. It is also a natural mouth cleanser that rinses away bits of food and plaque. Since dry mouth often results in less rinsing action, you may find that you develop more cavities—so you should brush more often and you may also need a fluoride gel or rinse for extra protection. Avoid products and foods that contain alcohol as they will dry your mouth even more!
Here are some other things you can try if you have dry mouth:
- Take frequent sips of water (avoid sugary beverages because of the increased cavity risk)
- Suck on ice-chips or sugar-free candies
- Chew sugar-free gum
- Drink more fluids with meals
- Eat foods with more moisture (gravy, sauces, pureed fruits, puddings) and avoid foods that are salty or dry (crackers, pretzels) or spicy foods which can irritate a dry mouth
- Ask your physician if you can switch medications or take a lower dose of your medication
- Ask if you can take a medication to increase saliva (Ask your dentist or your physician)
- Use rinses, sprays, toothpastes, and mouthwashes that are designed for those with dry mouth. (Biotene contains enzymes that are similar to your own saliva. ACT also makes dry mouth products, and there are others.) You can also make your own rinse of ¼ tsp baking soda and 1/8 tsp salt in 1 Cup water.
Unfortunately, we can’t always cure the dry mouth problem, but we do want to help you manage it as best possible, so please ask us if you feel you are having dry mouth for any reason. Learn more about dry mouth here: http://www.drjrobb.com/library/7684/DryMouth.html
Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist with an office located at 1612 Cooper Foster Park Rd., Lorain, OH 44053. Call 440-960-1940 to affiliate with her practice.