Oral Health Tips for Dry Mouth

What is dry mouth? (also known as Xerostomia)

Dry mouth occurs when there is not enough saliva, or spot to keep your mouth moist and comfortable. Dry mouth is not a disease. It is a side effect of taking medications or can be a symptom or certain diseases or conditions.

Dry mouth is a common complaint amongst older adults but can occur at any age. It is a normal sign of aging.

What causes dry mouth?

The most common cause of dry mouth is prescribed over-the-counter medications, such as:

  • Amphetamines
  • Antianxiety drugs
  • Antidepressants (tricyclics)
  • Anticholinergics (atropine)
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antihistamines
  • Antihypertensives
  • Antiparkinsonians
  • Antipsychotics
  • Antispasmodics
  • Appetite suppressants
  • Barbiturates
  • Bronchodilators
  • Decongestants
  • Diuretics
  • Hypnotics
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Opioid (narcotic) analgesics

What are the symptoms of dry mouth?

  • A sticky, dry or burning feeling in the mouth, throat or nasal passages.
  • Lips or corners of mouth are cracked.
  • Lips may stick to teeth or dentures.
  • Saliva is thick and stringy.
  • Trouble chewing, swallowing, tasting or speaking.

How does dry mouth effect my oral health?

Saliva helps to protect teeth by neutralizing the acid caused by plaque that leads to tooth decay. In addition, decreased saliva leads to:

  • Plaque build-up.
  • Gingivitis and gum disease.
  • Dentures being less comfortable to wear.
  • Bad breath.

Tips to manage dry mouth:

  • Daily mouth care: clean teeth, gums and dentures.
  • Brush teeth with a high fluoride toothpaste.
  • Use a high fluoride mouth rinse.
  • Take frequent sips of water to keep the mouth moist.
  • Chew sugar-free gum or candy to stimulate saliva.
  • Avoid tobacco, alcohol, caffeinated beverages and sugary drinks.
  • Speak to your pharmacist or dentist about products that can help keep your mouth moist.
  • Have regular dental exams and professional cleanings.

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