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Dry Mouth: How to manage?

Mohommed Essop-Adam
Reviewed by Mohommed Essop-AdamReviewed on 30.10.2023 | 3 minutes read
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Dry mouth, medically known as xerostomia, is a condition characterised by insufficient saliva production from the salivary glands in the mouth. Saliva plays a crucial role in protecting teeth from decay by neutralizing acids produced by harmful oral bacteria. It also enhances taste perception, facilitates chewing and swallowing, and aids in digestion. However, a decreased saliva flow and dry mouth can range from being a minor inconvenience to significantly impacting overall health, dental well-being, appetite, and enjoyment of food.

Causes of Dry Mouth

Dehydration is a common cause of dry mouth, emphasizing the importance of maintaining adequate hydration by consuming sufficient water or using hydration tablets like ORS. Certain medications, including anxiety and blood pressure drugs, antidepressants, and some antihistamines, can induce dry mouth as a side effect. Breathing through the mouth during sleep can also lead to morning dryness. Infections such as oral thrush can contribute to or be a consequence of mouth dryness as well.

Do's and Don'ts for Managing Dry Mouth

Do's

  • Stay hydrated by regularly drinking cold water throughout the day, and keep a water supply near your bedside at night.
  • Stimulate saliva production by sucking on ice cubes or ice lollies. Chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free sweets can also help stimulate saliva flow.
  • Maintain oral hygiene by brushing your teeth twice a day and using alcohol-free mouthwash, as the reduced saliva flow diminishes its protective effects.

Dont's

  • Avoid consuming excessive amounts of alcoholic, caffeine-containing, or carbonated beverages, as they can worsen dry mouth symptoms.
  • Refrain from using acidic artificial saliva products on natural teeth, as they may cause damage.
  • Steer clear of acidic, spicy, salty, or sugary foods, as they can further harm tooth enamel.
  • Smoking should be avoided, as it not only compromises oral health but also reduces the protective benefits of saliva.

Seeking Professional Guidance

It is not typically necessary to seek immediate medical or dental attention for dry mouth. However, if dryness persists despite self-care measures or if you experience difficulties with chewing, swallowing, talking, or frequent eating, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional. Additionally, it is essential to seek medical advice if taste disturbances persist, or if pain, swelling, bleeding, or suspected medication-induced dry mouth occurs.

Your doctor or dentist will evaluate your condition, identify potential causes, and recommend appropriate treatments to alleviate dry mouth symptoms.

Help from the pharmacy

Pharmacists can provide valuable guidance in managing dry mouth. They can recommend gels, sprays, tablets, mouthwashes or lozenges that promote saliva production or serve as artificial saliva. However, not all products are suitable for everyone, so it is important to consult with a pharmacist to determine the most suitable option for your needs.

In some cases, dry mouth may be associated with nasal congestion. In such situations, a pharmacist may suggest decongestants to relieve the blockage and alleviate dry mouth symptoms.

By following these strategies and seeking appropriate professional advice, individuals with dry mouth can effectively manage their condition, improve oral health, and enhance overall well-being.

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Mohommed Essop-Adam
Reviewed by Mohommed Essop-Adam
Reviewed on 30.10.2023
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