Dry mouth, known medically as xerostomia, is something that most people have experienced at some time. If you wake up in the morning with a dry mouth and a quick glass of water solves the problem, then it’s easy to cope with. But what if it’s a chronic problem which is there all the time?
A dry mouth is annoying and uncomfortable but if it is a chronic problem, it can become very painful and lead to other problems.
As well as helping us to talk, taste, chew and swallow, saliva has an important job. Enzymes in the saliva help to break down food which aids digestion. As well as this, saliva neutralises acids and helps to keep the tongue, teeth and gums clean and healthy. Therefore, when dry mouth is a chronic problem, sufferers are more prone to developing gum disease and tooth decay.
Disclosure – This post contains affiliate links. This means that if a reader clicks on a link and makes a purchase, I will receive a very small commission. This will be at no extra cost to the reader. Please look at my disclosure page for more details
Symptoms of Dry Mouth
Having a dry mouth means there is no or very little saliva or the saliva can be thick and stringy.
Problems of having dry mouth can include:
- difficulty chewing and swallowing food
- a painful, cracked or burning tongue
- a dry or sore throat
- difficulty talking
- a hoarse voice
- bad breath
- oral thrush
- mouth sores
- strange or no taste
- painful cracked lips
- problems if you wear dentures
- longterm, it can cause gum disease and tooth decay
What Can Cause Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth is a fairly common problem amongst people who live with pain or chronic illness because it’s often a side effect of medication. However, it can also be a symptom of certain health conditions, therefore it’s important to tell your doctor if dry mouth is a common problem. Often people think that a dry mouth is a trivial problem, therefore they don’t mention it to their doctors. But it’s actually a vital piece of information to a doctor.
Some common reasons for having a dry mouth:
- certain health conditions (eg Sjogrens and diabetes)
- nerve damage
- medication (eg painkillers, antidepressants and anticonvulsants)
- cold and flu remedies
- cancer treatments
- using recreational drugs
- nerves and anxiety
Tips To Help You Cope With Dry Mouth
There are some things which are worth trying to avoid as they can cause or worsen dry mouth. There are also many specially formulated products for dry mouth which could help you to cope with the problem.
What You Should Avoid if You Have Dry Mouth
If your medication is the cause, talk to your doctor about it because they may be able to prescribe something more suitable. Unfortunately, sometimes there might be no suitable alternative, therefore, you can’t avoid taking it.
There are, however, some things which you can avoid:
- recreational drugs
- dry, salty, sugary, spicy or acidic food or drinks
- any mouthwashes which contain alcohol or peroxide
Coping with Oral Hygiene and Dental Health
Visit your dentist regularly for check ups.
To help avoid tooth decay due to dry mouth, clean your teeth with a fluoride-based toothpaste at least twice a day. Try to also brush after eating sugary or acidic food.
Use toothpaste and mouthwashes which have been specially formulated for dry mouth and are free from alcohol. Also, speak to your dentist about your dry mouth. They might be able to prescribe you with an extra-strong fluoride toothpaste which will give added protection.
Sprays and Gels for Dry Mouth
Dry mouth sprays and gels can bring relief and can help to overcome the difficulties with talking and eating.
Gum and Sweets for Dry Mouth
Chewing sugar-free gum or sucking sugar-free boiled sweets can help to stimulate saliva.
Dry Cracked Lips
There are lots of products you can buy which could help dry lips.
If snoring is a problem, you might be starting every day off with an uncomfortable dry mouth. Therefore, it’s worth looking into products which might help.
Coping With Eating When You Have Dry Mouth
Opt for soup or food cooked with sauces and ensure you have a drink by your side while eating. If the problem is really bad, use a dry mouth spray before eating.
Don’t Become Dehydrated
This might sound too obvious, but I’ll mention it anyway – drink more water. Don’t drink a litre in one sitting but, instead, sip water throughout the day. Fill a glass and keep it by your side so you don’t forget to drink it. Or, better still, use a reusable water bottle which you can take with you wherever you go.
(I want to add here that although it’s important to drink enough water throughout the day, it can be dangerous to drink too much. The implications of that are discussed in this post by Caz from Invisibly Me.)
I love reusable water bottles because, for me, they are much more convenient than using a glass. I keep one in the living room and another next to my bed. It means there’s always water by my side, therefore, I don’t forget to drink. And, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m a wee bit clumsy. I don’t know how many times I’ve dropped and broken glasses full of water. But if I drop one of these reusable bottles, there are no breakages or spills to clean up.
They’re also great if you have pets. We used to have a cat and a dog. The cat was even clumsier than me. Actually, I think her actions were intentional rather than accidental as she seemed to take pleasure in knocking things over. And our dog, an extremely happy labrador, wagged his tail with such great gusto that he could send anything flying into tomorrow.
Their hair seemed to land everywhere, including into glasses of water or mugs of tea. I loved my gorgeous furkids to bits but I really wasn’t very keen on drinking their hair! Since the reusable bottles are covered, the water stays fresh, clean and free of pet hair.
I hope some of these tips help you to cope with your dry mouth. But, please, do speak to your doctor if your dry mouth is a persistent problem just in case it’s caused by a medical issue.