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Managing Dry Mouth

Dry mouth also known as xerostomia occurs when the salivary glands in your mouth don’t produce enough saliva. Saliva is essential to moisten and cleanse your mouth and help with food digestion. It also prevents infection by controlling bacteria and fungi in your mouth.

Chronic dry mouth can be extremely uncomfortable and can even lead to:

  • Sticky dry mouth

  • Bad breath

  • Constant thirst

  • Sore and dry throat

  • Mouth sores and cracked lips

  • Burning and tingling sensation in the mouth

Causes of dry mouth:

  • Side effect of certain medications. Dry mouth is a common side effect of many prescription and nonprescription drugs, including drugs used to treat depression, anxiety, pain, allergies, asthma, and Parkinson's disease.

  • Side effect of certain diseases and infections. Sjögren's syndrome, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension and Parkinson's disease.

  • Side effect of certain medical treatments. Damage to the salivary glands from radiation to the head and neck, and chemotherapy treatments, for cancer.

  • Surgical removal of the salivary glands.

  • Lifestyle. Smoking or chewing tobacco

Managing dry mouth:

  • If caused by medication, discuss with your family doctor a substitute with less side effects.

  • Drink a lot of water: Staying hydrated is instrumental in preventing or fighting dry mouth.

  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and acidic beverages to avoid excessive dehydration

  • Avoid salty foods, dry foods (such as crackers, toast, cookies) and foods and beverages with high sugar content.

  • Breathe through your nose, not your mouth, as much as possible. If you have any difficulty in doing so, particularly while sleeping, it’s possible that you have a sleep or sinus issue that needs remedying.

  • Chew sugar-free candy or sugar-free gum, specifically ones with xylitol to stimulate saliva production

  • Brush with a fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinse and visit your dentist regularly. Avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol or peroxide.

Reduce salivary flow increases the risk of tooth decay and is a contributing factor to gum disease. Therefore, it is essential to see your dentist for routine dental exam and cleaning for proper diagnosis.

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