Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)

Dry mouth (xerostomia) occurs when the salivary glands in the mouth do not produce enough saliva to keep the mouth wet, which is so important for our ability to taste, chew, swallow and speak with normal, natural ease.

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What is dry mouth (xerostomia)?

A dry mouth can contribute to the onset of tooth decay as there is significantly less saliva in the mouth to neutralise acid from bacteria and to remove food particles from the surface of the teeth, accelerating the development of plaque. Enzymes in your saliva also aid digestion and so without them, eating becomes less comfortable. A dry mouth can be a symptom of certain illnesses in many cases – as well as occur as a common oral health condition, in others.

Symptoms of dry mouth

  • A dry, sticky mouth
  • Viscous saliva
  • Dehydration
  • The onset of bad breath
  • Difficulties with chewing, swallowing, speaking
  • A change to your sense of taste
  • A dry, sore throat
  • A wispy voice, hoarseness
  • The development of a dried, cracked, grooved tongue
  • Cracked, bleeding, sore lips
  • The onset of small mouth sores at the corners of your mouth
  • Mouth (Oral) thrush – a yeast infection exacerbated by dry mouth
  • Dentures becoming loose, not fitting correctly or comfortably anymore

What causes dry mouth?

  • Certain illnesses such as autoimmune disorders such as Sjögren’s syndrome, AIDS, and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Conditions such as cystic fibrosis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnoea, and COVID-19 can also lead to dry mouth
  • Some medications alone or multiple medications taken together can cause dry mouth as an unwanted side effect like those taken for depression, diarrhea, asthma
  • Chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments for cancer can create dry mouth, too
  • Tobacco, alcohol, and recreational drug use habits

How to treat dry mouth

Keep hydrated and ensure the mouth is moistened, at all times.

  1. Make an appointment with your doctor for specific advice regarding illness and/or medication-related dry mouth
  2. Make an appointment with your dentist to check if your dry mouth is causing tooth decay and/or gum disease and so treat it
  3. Make an appointment with your dental hygienist to optimise your oral hygiene routine at home to include brushing and flossing twice daily
  4. See your pharmacist for advice on gels, sprays, tablets, lozenges
  5. Sip water, suck ice cubes, suck ice lollies
  6. Reduce or eliminate your consumption of tobacco, alcohol, recreational drug use
  7. Reduce your consumption of caffeine, fizzy drinks – select water, juice
  8. Try sugarless gum to promote saliva production, apply lip balm to cracked lips

A dry mouth becomes increasingly intolerable on a daily basis and can negatively impact upon your personal confidence and general sense of wellbeing. Dry mouth urgently requires effective treatment.

Contact the friendly, professional, and expert dental team at Wimpole Street Dental Clinic to remedy dry mouth fast to restore your smile, today.

Wimpole St Dental Clinic has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

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