Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is a very common condition that is affecting increasing numbers of patients that we see in the practice. Lack of saliva flow can lead to anything from mild discomfort to rapidly progressive tooth decay, bad breath and tooth wear.

Dry mouth has been estimated to affect up to 20% of the population as a whole, with up to 50% of the elderly being affected.

Dr Helen and Dr Rosie talk about the impacts of dry mouth and offer some tips

Some common causes of dry mouth are-

  • certain medical conditions such as diabetes, sinus and nasal issues leading to mouth breathing and obstructive sleep apnoea resulting in mouth breathing at night

  • conditions such as Sjogrens syndrome where  dry mouth is accompanied by dry eyes and joint inflammation.

  • Ageing is a common cause of dry mouth

  • Smoking and recreational drug use

  • Cancer treatment which could be radiation therapy or chemotherapy

  • Medications for conditions such as high blood pressure, anxiety and depression

Signs of dry mouth are-

  • Mouth feels dry

  • Dentures are uncomfortable to wear

  • Bad breath

  • Saliva is thick and stringy

  • Cracking or dryness of the lips is a very common sign

“Saliva helps prevent tooth decay by neutralising food acids and acid produced by bacteria in the mouth, limiting bacterial growth and also helping wash away food particles from the mouth.”

Managing dry mouth

  • Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, sipping often

  • Avoiding smoking and moderating your intake of alcohol

  • Seek advice from your GP to see if your medications can be managed to assist your dry mouth

  • Chewing sugar free gum after meals and in between meals

  • Ensuring you brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste

  • There are special products and saliva substitutes that can be prescribed in severe cases

Mouth dryness is a condition that is becoming more common. Managing dry mouth effectively can be complex and will require regular monitoring in order to ensure good general and oral health. Managing dry mouth well will assist you and your family avoid tooth decay, dental erosion and ensure optimum oral comfort and health.

If you want to know more information or are worried you may be suffering from mouth dryness, then your dentist is the best place to provide advice and support. Contact us today to make an appointment.

Kimberley Hayllar