Dry mouth (xerostomia) is a sensation of dryness in the mouth. It is a common condition which can be associated with a change in quality as well as quantity of saliva. Everyone can experience dry mouth when a they are nervous or stressed but an ongoing dry mouth can be uncomfortable and can lead to mouth infections and dental decay. Dry mouth can also be a sign of certain medical conditions.
Common causes of dry mouth include drug therapy, systemic disease, and radiation therapy.
Good hydration and nutrition are vital to help decrease the severity of dry mouth. Avoiding and reducing the dosage of drugs that are associated with Xerostomia, particularly in older patients, is useful. Regular oral and dental hygiene are important in preventing dental and mouth infections. Stopping smoking and limiting alcohol and caffeine drinks can also help to prevent dry mouth and the consequences of dry mouth.
Determining and correcting the underlying cause of dry mouth is the best way to treat xerostomia however, this may not always be possible.
Dry mouth can be managed by stimulating salivary gland. This can be achieved by sucking sugarless loollies or chewing gum. Medications may also be prescribed which can stimulate saliva production and increase its flow, but they can have many adverse effects and contraindications. Please check with your doctor.
Saliva substitutes and lubricants such as spray, mouthwashes, gels and liquids are available in many pharmacies. These can be used as often as needed to help manage symptoms of dry mouth.