DEFINITION Xerostomia (pronounced “zero-sto-me-ah”) is the medical word for dry mouth due to decreased or absent saliva. This problem is quite common and is caused by a variety of medical conditions and medications.
Sip cool water throughout the day, let ice chips melt in mouth (don’t chew ice!). Most people do not drink enough fluids and this will contribute to a dry mouth.
Try drinking milk with meals, milk has moisturizing properties and helps some people to swallow their food.
Restrict caffeine intake – caffeine is a MAJOR cause of dry mouth. Use caffeine-free tea, coffee and sodas. Eliminating caffeine from your diet will have a significant effect on the symptoms of dry mouth.
Use a cool air humidifier in the bedroom – clean and change water daily. Start the humidifier an hour or two before bedtime and let it run through the night.
Avoid alcohol and alcohol-containing mouthwashes (read labels of commercial products carefully), alcohol has a drying effect and can also irritate the tissues.
Use sugar-free candy, gum, cough drops and beverages, look for products that contain Xylitol (a sweetener that does not cause cavities). Overuse of acidic candies and foods can cause a sore mouth, chewing gum will stimulate saliva flow.
For dry lips, use Blistex Herbal Answer during the day and especially at bedtime. Pure lanolin products (Lansinohâ) are also good lip moisturizers. Avoid chronic use of Vaselineâ and most chap sticks. If possible, sleep on your side in order to reduce mouth breathing.
See your dentist frequently, people with dry mouth are more prone to oral yeast infections as well as dental cavities. Report any unusual oral soreness or burning sensations to your dentist, excellent oral hygiene is necessary to prevent cavities and gum disease .
COMMERCIAL SALIVA SUBSTITUTES, STIMULANTS & MOISTURIZING GELS
The products listed below are available without a prescription and can be found or ordered from many pharmacies. These products are very helpful in alleviating the symptoms of dry mouth. They can be used as often as needed, do not interfere or react with other prescription drugs and do not have side-effects.
SalivaSure Tablets (Scandinavian Formulas, Inc.) – 90 ct. bottle $7.95
to stimulate natural saliva flow, dissolve one tablet slowly under tongue up to every hour as needed
highly recommended, will not cause cavities or sore mouth
easy to carry, mild mint flavor, no drug interactions
Oral Balance (Laclede) – 1.5 oz tube
moisturizing water based gel, especially useful at nighttime
spread on tissues and under dentures as needed for long-lasting effects
Biotene Toothpaste (Laclede) – 4.5 oz tube
mild tasting, gently cleaning toothpaste, contains fluoride and is sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) free. SLS is a detergent found in most toothpastes that can be irritating to oral tissues.
also available in a gel formulation and a formulation for sensitive teeth (Biotene Sensitiveâ)
SALIVA SUBSTITUTE LIQUID:
Oral Balance Dry Mouth Moisturizing Liquid – 1.5 oz squeeze bottle
squirt several drops in mouth as needed, mild tasting
With Recaldent™ – acts as a lubricant, spread on tissue and gums with finger 1-2 times daily, especially useful at night. Also reduces tooth sensitivity and can protect against dental caries.