My mouth always feels dry! What can I do?

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Oral Hygiene and Dental Therapy
BSDH (Otago)

dry mouthDoes your mouth often feel sticky and dry? Do you often get thirsty? Do you have problems with chewing or swallowing? A prickly, burning sensation in the mouth? Mouth ulcers? Bad breath? If you have answered yes to one or more of these questions, you may be experiencing dry mouth.

Xerostomia, more commonly known as dry mouth syndrome, is a growing problem among many of our patients these days. A feeling of dryness in the mouth is an unwanted symptom of an underlying problem. That’s why we recommend seeing one of our friendly dental hygienists at Smile Solutions to establish the cause of your dry mouth problems and provide you with advice on how to manage your discomfort.

A dry mouth significantly increases the risk of tooth decay. This is because saliva:

  • Contains components that can directly attack the bacteria that cause decay
  • Neutralises the acids produced by plaque
  • Contains phosphorus and calcium. These substances are vital to the ongoing process of remineralisation, which is the rebuilding of tooth enamel.

Early detection of dry mouth is paramount to avoid nutritional deficiencies, discomfort and an increase in decay. While there is practical advice offered online to help alleviate the feeling of dryness in the mouth, the relief may only be temporary.

During your dental exam you may require an analysis of your saliva and further investigation to find the cause and eliminate more health imposing risks.

Your dentist and dental hygienist may help by way of recommendations with oral hygiene instruction, lifestyle changes and over the counter saliva substitutes in the form of gels and oral rinses. For those whose cause of dry mouth is related to Sjogrens syndrome or radiation and chemotherapy, it’s best to consult your doctor regarding systemic drugs that slow the loss of functional salivary gland tissue.

Below are some recommendations to combat dry mouth:

  • Improve your oral hygiene regime to include brushing and flossing twice daily
  • Don’t use mouthwashes that contain alcohol
  • Chew sugar-free chewing gum or suck on flavoured sugar-free hard candies
  • Limit caffeine intake
  • Stop all tobacco use
  • Increase water consumption
  • Salivary substitutes (artificial saliva products), including tri-enzyme systems designed for dry mouth. Popular brands are oral7 or Biotene
  • Avoid toothpaste and oral rinse that contains sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Avoid using over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants
  • Be aware of occasions when you are mouth breathing and aim to breathe through the nose
  • Avoid foods and drinks high in acid and sugar
  • Brush with toothpaste that contains fluoride
  • Consult with your dentist or dental hygienist about fluoride containing rinses and pastes
  • See your dentist and dental hygienist at least twice a year.

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