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Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)

Posted on: May 31 2021

Dry mouth, or xerostomia, takes place when your salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva to prevent the mouth from drying out. Saliva production plays a vital role in moistening our mouths, and aids in the digestion of food. It also helps control bacteria in the mouth, preventing infection and bad breath.

Xerostomia can often occur due to dehydration and tobacco use. It can also be caused as a side effect of numerous medications. Additionally, dry mouth can be a result of certain medical conditions, including diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, yeast infection in the mouth (thrush) and several autoimmune diseases. Snoring and breathing with your mouth open can also worsen symptoms of dry mouth.

Thankfully, there are several things you can do to treat dry mouth. These include:

  • Aim to drink 1.5 litres of tap water a day.
  • Avoid regular sipping, as this will wash off the protective effect of the remaining saliva in your mouth. To better stimulate saliva, drink half to full glasses of water at a time.
  • Eat at least three meals, chewing as much as you can, as this will help with your saliva flow.
  • Chew sugarless gum.
  • Eat celery, carrots or other non-acidic, coarse foods.
  • When drinking tea or coffee, add milk.
  • Maintain good oral health practices. Brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, and floss once a day.

Things to avoid:

  • Avoid sugary foods and drinks as your teeth are more susceptible to decay with reduced saliva.  If consumed, limit these foods to meal-times accompanied with water.  Follow up with thorough teeth cleaning.
  • Avoid acidic foods and drinks.  For example, soft drinks, fruit juice, sports drinks, flavoured teas.
  • Avoid spicy and salty foods. These may irritate the lining of the mouth.
  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco, tea and coffee (without milk) as these can reduce the flow of saliva.

Regular visits to your dentist or hygienist are essential in the diagnosis and treatment of xerostomia. You will be advised on the best pharmaceutical products for reducing the effects of dry mouth. A regular dental exam is also important to check for any other signs of oral hygiene problems.

If you suspect that you may have dry mouth, it is best to visit a dentist to get the issue sorted as soon as possible. Get in touch with Park Road Dental to get your dental hygiene back on track. Give our team a call on (03) 9584 4949, complete our online contact form or make a booking today.