Many people experience a condition called “Dry Mouth”. This occurs when you feel as though you don’t have enough saliva in your mouth. The discomfort of having a dry mouth can range from mild to severe. If left untreated, it can make it difficult to speak, chew and swallow.
A dry mouth can change the taste of food and can cause a sore throat, a hoarse voice and bad breath. It can also make your gums sore and inflamed, and dentures painful to wear.
Saliva is important because it:
- Prevents tooth loss
- Helps you to speak, chew and swallow and digest food.
- Protects your teeth and gums from bacteria and acids that can lead to dental cavities.
- Helps prevent infection by balancing the number of bacteria in your mouth.
If you have dry mouth it is important to talk to your medical doctor so they can look at what could be causing it.
Many medicines can cause dry mouth, including those prescribed by your GP or bought from the pharmacist, supermarket or health food store.
What should I talk to my dentist about if I have a dry mouth?
Dry mouth increases your chances of getting dental cavities and other oral health issues. Annual visits to the dentist can insure that your teeth, gums and mouth stay healthy. When you see the dentist tell them that you feel as though you have a dry mouth and about any medicines you take.
What else can I do to help with a dry mouth?
Simple measures can help to relieve the feeling of dry mouth and minimise the consequences. For specific advice talk to your dentist but here are a few tips that might help you:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and use dental floss daily. If you like to use a mouthwash ( not necessary) it must be a non-alcoholic mouthwash.
- Minimise sugary and acidic foods and drinks such as fruit juices, cordial, soft drinks, alcohol, sports and energy drinks.
- Sip on plain tap water and suck on ice chips or spray water in your mouth for dryness.
- Some people find using a humidifier at night while sleeping can be helpful.
- Use a water-based lip moisturiser if your lips are dry.
- Eat foods that require chewing to stimulate saliva production, for example, celery. Sugar-free chewing gum is also excellent to stimulate saliva flow and is recommended in cases of dry mouth.
- Ask your dentist and pharmacist about products for dry mouth. Specialised toothpaste, “tooth mousse,” specific mouthwashes and oral lubricants are all available and might help.