Managing a Dry Mouth

Saliva is a natural production that helps swallowing, talking, taste, and protects the soft tissues. Saliva is produced from the Salivary Glands of which there are six major glands and thousands of tiny glands in your lips, cheeks and palate. Where saliva is reduced there is a risk of dental decay (caries), bad breath, altered taste, and sore mouths. Saliva may be reduced by radiotherapy or chemotherapy, various drugs particularly the anti hypertensives, in diabetes, in anxiety, stress and depression, or in salivary gland disease. Ageing also reduces the production of saliva.

10 steps towards managing a dry mouth

Sip on water and other non-sugary fluids throughout the day. Rinse with water after meals. Keep water at your bedside.

Replace missing saliva with salivary substitutes ( e.g. Artificial Saliva, Glandosane, Luborant, Biotene Oralbalance, AS Saliva Orthana, Salivace, Saliveze). Alcohol-free mouthrinses (BioXtra and Biotène), or moisturising gels (Oralbalance, BioXtra) may help.

Stimulate saliva with sugar-free chewing gums ( e.g. EnDeKay, Orbit, Biotène dry mouth gum or BioXtra chewing gum) or diabetic sweets or Salivix or SST if advised or drugs that stimulate salivation if advised by a Specialist.

Always take water or non-alcoholic drinks with meals and avoid spicy, dry or hard crunchy foods such as biscuits, or dunk in liquids. Take small bites and eat slowly.

Eat soft creamy foods (casseroles, soups), or cool foods with a high liquid content - melon, grapes, or ice cream. Moisten foods with gravies, sauces, extra oil, margarine, salad dressings, sour cream, Mayonnaise or yogurt. Pineapple has an enzyme that helps clean the mouth.

Avoid anything that may worsen dryness, such as;

  • drugs, unless they are essential (e.g. antidepressants)
  • alcohol (including in mouthwashes)
  • smoking
  • caffeine (coffee, some soft drinks)
  • mouthbreathing.

Protect against dental caries by avoiding sugary foods/drinks and by

  • reducing sugar intake (avoid snacking and eating last thing at night)
  • avoiding sticky foods such as toffee
  • keeping your mouth very clean (twice daily toothbrushing and flossing)
  • using a fluoride toothpaste
  • using fluoride gels or mouthwashes (0.05% fluoride) daily before going to bed
  • having regular dental checks.

Protect against thrush, gum problems and halitosis by

  • keeping your mouth very clean
  • keeping your mouth as moist as possible
  • rinsing twice daily with chlorhexidine (e.g. Chlorohex, Corsodyl, Eludril) or triclosan (e.g. Plax)
  • brushing or scraping your tongue
  • keeping dentures out at night
  • disinfect dentures in hypochlorite (e.g. Milton, Dentural)
  • use antifungals if recommended by Specialist.

Protect the lips with a lip salve or petroleum jelly (e.g.Vaseline).

Consider a humidifier for the bedroom.

Sjogren’s Syndrome

Sjogren's Syndrome is one possible cause for a dry mouth. If this is suspected, your dentist will refer you to the Oral Medicine Department at Birmingham Dental Hospital for confirmation.

  • This is an uncommon condition
  • The cause is unknown but it is immunological and possibly viral.
  • It is not known to be infectious.
  • It is not usually inherited.
  • Common features are dry mouth and dry eyes.
  • Joint and other problems may be associated
  • X-rays, blood tests and biopsy may be required.
  • Symptoms can usually be controlled but not cured with simple drugs.
  • Common complications are mouth soreness, tooth decay and salivary swelling.
  • Rare complication, in a very few patients is a tumour.
  • You should get yourself checked regularly if advised by the specialist

Make an appointment01282 775 552

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61-63 Church Street,
Padiham Lancashire
BB12 8JH