Cotton should be dry, not your mouth.

added on: May 23, 2017

Dry mouth is a feeling of not enough saliva present in the mouth. Its technical term is Xerostomia (Zera-stomia). Symptoms of a dry mouth can include:

Saliva is an important attribute to the mouth. It helps with digestion, protects the teeth from decay, controls bacteria and makes chewing and swallowing easier.

There are several causes of dry mouth. The biggest cause is side affects of medications.  There are over 400 medications that can affect the saliva glands.  High blood pressure and depression medications can most commonly cause dry mouth.  The more medications you take, the higher your risk of dry mouth.  Medical conditions (AIDS, Sjögren’s Syndrome, and diabetes) can all cause dry mouth.  Radiation can damage the salivary glands and chemotherapy can cause the saliva to feel thick and have a dry mouth feel.  Injuries to the head and neck can cause damage to the nerves that tell the salivary gland to produce saliva.

The main goal with dry mouth is to keep the tissues in the mouth moist. If the underlying cause is unknown, medication adjustments do not help prescription meds for salivary increases in flow may not be indicated. However the use of over the counter saliva substitutes can help keep the mouth moist.  Continuous moisture in the mouth helps keep down bacterial colonization, decrease decay and makes the mouth and its functions (like speaking and eating) much easier and comfortable.

There are things you can do to help create saliva and keep the mouth moist. These include:

  1. Sipping water
  2. Chewing sugarless hum (Xylitol should be the first ingredient as this natural sweetener helps produce more saliva)
  3. Avoid caffeine
  4. Sip water during meals to make chewing and swallowing easier
  5. Use of mints and lozenges (all sugarless) can help stimulate saliva flow.
  6. Do not use tobacco or alcohol
  7. Spicy and salty foods can irritate dry mouth
  8. Use of a humidifier at night There are numerous products to aide with your dry mouth.

Seeking advice from a dental professional is wise when choosing a product right for you. It can vary depending on why you have dry mouth, the way you take care of your teeth and the severity of the Xerostomia.

Biotene is a common advertised product that makes gel, toothpaste, rinses and gum. Mouthkote spray, Xylimelts, Therabreath products, Oasis spray, and Sage spray and mouth moisturizer are other dry mouth products available. Sprays can be useful for those who have dry mouth throughout the day. Act is a popular brand name that makes rinses, lozenges and paste to help with dry mouth. Act dry mouth pastes and rinses contain fluoride. Fluoride is a great addition to brushing and flossing with dry mouth patients. Decay is common among dry mouth patient’s due to decrease in saliva flow and increase in bacteria colonization.

Spry products are a great product that helps to stimulate saliva flow. Some dry mouth products provide temporary relief. If a product contains xylitol (a natural sweetener) as its first ingredient and you have 5 servings a day of xylitol products, it can help to stimulate the saliva glands to make more saliva. Spry products have xylitol listed as their first ingredient. Spry makes gum, mints, paste, rinses, infant gel, nasal spray and a dry mouth spray.

You can find xylitol in many products, but it is more beneficial as the first ingredient. Xylimelts, Spry products, Mentos gum, and icebreakers gum all contain xylitol as their first ingredient. Xylitol gum’s flavor does not last very long, which is a good thing as less chewing is needed and jaw issues are less likely to occur.

Stress, breathing through the mouth and dehydration can cause temporary dry mouth. To relieve temporary dry mouth, try stress reducing methods, breathing through your nose and keeping yourself well hydrated.

Seeing a dentist every 3-6 months is ideal for your hygienist to help determine if you’re developing dry mouth symptoms early on. When patient starts to feel dryness, the dry mouth is advanced. It is a good idea to provide the dental office with a list of medications to see if any of the medications you’re taking may contribute or be contributing to your dry mouth.

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