Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)
Xerostomia (pronounced "zero-sto'me-ah") is the medical word for dry mouth due to decreased or absent saliva. This problem is quite common and is caused by a variety of medical conditions and medications.
Helpful Hints For Treating Dry Mouth
- Stay Hydrated
- Most people do not drink enough fluids and this will contribute to a dry mouth.
- • Sip cool water throughout the day, let ice chips melt in mouth (don't chew ice!)
- • Drink one-half of your weight in ounces of water per day.
- • Try drinking 2% or whole milk with meals. Milk has moisturizing properties and helps some people to swallow their food.
- • Use a cool air humidifier in your bedroom. Clean and change water daily. Start the humidifier an hour or two before bedtime and let it run through the night. If possible, sleep on your side in order to reduce mouth breathing.
- • For dry lips, use hydrous lanolin USP (Lansinoh), Banana Boat Aloe with Vitamin E lip balm, or Blistex Herbal Answer during the day and especially at bedtime. Chronic use of Vaseline is drying and should be avoided.
- Restrict Caffeine Intake
- Caffeine is a MAJOR cause of dry mouth. Eliminating caffeine from your diet will have a significant effect on the symptoms of dry mouth.
- • Use caffeine-free tea, coffee and sodas.
- • If you drink caffeine, for every four ounces of caffeine you drink, drink eight ounces of water
- Avoid Alcoholic Beverages and Mouthwashes
- Alcohol can irritate the tissues and so can foaming agents like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS).
- • Read labels of commercial products carefully.
- • If you drink alcohol, for every four ounces of alcohol you drink, drink eight ounces of water.
- Avoid Sugar
- Use sugar-free candy, gum and beverages. Look for products that contain Xylitol, a sweetener that does not cause cavities. Xylitol is found in IceBreakers Ice Cubes, Spry, Theragum, and Epic gum.
- • Overuse of acidic candies and foods can cause a sore mouth.
- • Chewing gum will stimulate saliva flow but look for 6g/day of xylitol.
- Visit Your Dentist Frequently
People with dry mouth are more prone to oral yeast infections as well as dental cavities. Excellent hygiene is necessary to prevent cavities and gum disease.
Products That Treat Dry Mouth
SalivaSure® Tablets(formerly called Salix SST® by Scandinavian Formulas, Inc.)
90 ct. bottle $7.95
Used to stimulate natural saliva flow. Dissolve one tablet slowly under tongue up to every hour as needed. These tablets are highly recommended, because they will not cause cavities or sore mouth. They are easy to carry, have a mild mint flavor, and have no drug interactions. These tablets may be difficult to obtain but ask your pharmacist to order this product.
Oral Balance® (GSK)
This moisturizing water based gel is especially useful at bedtime. Spread on tissues and under dentures as needed for long-lasting effects.
Biotene Toothpastes® (GSK)
4.5oz tube available in gel, paste or sensitive varieties
This mild tasting, gently cleaning toothpaste comes in a blue box. It contains MFP fluoride. It is also available in a gel formulation in a green box that contains MFP fluoride.
- Saliva Substitute Liquid
4oz (Roxane) or Oasis - 1oz (GSK) mouthspray
Oral Balance Dry Mouth Moisturizing Liquid
Stoppers 4 Dry Mouth Spray
1oz (Woodridge Inc.)