Saliva is a natural part of the digestive system that helps break down foods and rinses the mouth of bacteria. Dry mouth (Xerostomia) is characterized by lack of saliva. Without saliva, or without an appropriate amount, bacteria can stick to the teeth and create tooth decay, which can lead to infections in the mouth and even tooth loss. Common symptoms may include dryness in the mouth, bad breath, chapped lips, or waking up at night feeling thirsty. A dry mouth can also make eating difficult because saliva helps you taste, chew, and digest food. Without enough saliva, simply eating a meal can become a challenge.
But dry mouth isn’t a disease in itself; dry mouth is a symptom of other conditions. It can be caused by medication use, smoking, radiation treatment, aging, and even diseases such as diabetes or Parkinson’s. The most common symptoms of dry mouth include feeling thirsty, having a dry, sticky mouth, chapped lips, burning/tingling in your mouth and tongue, and bad breath. Dry Mouth can be uncomfortable and bothersome, but more importantly, it can impact oral health, If left untreated, Dry Mouth may result in a greater risk of oral problems such as cavities and mouth infections.
TIPS TO HELP REDUCE SYMPTOMS
- Drink water throughout the day – stay hydrated
- Chew sugar-free gum, or suck on sugar free candies or mints to help increase saliva
- Use Xylitol products to chew or suck on
- Brush with a fluoride toothpaste
- Use mouth washes, rinses and/or toothpaste designed for dry mouth
- Use an artificial saliva product, either over-the-counter or prescribed by your doctor or dentist
- Avoid acidic or spicy foods which can make it worse
- Limit your alcohol and caffeine intake, especially at night
- Talk to your doctor about any mouth breathing or snoring
- Quit smoking
- Discuss changing medications to reduce dry mouth as a side effect
- Keep your good oral hygiene habits to reduce the chance of bacteria growth, cavities and gum disease.
- Use a humidifier to add additional moisture to the air
- At night, have water and/or ice chips available beside your bed in case you awake parched