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What to do about a dry mouth

If you're starting to get a dry mouth during the mornings or evenings, don't dismiss your symptoms too quickly without further thought. A dry mouth can indicate that you are not producing saliva in the way you used to, and can start to affect both your oral health and quality of life. It is normal to experience a dry mouth when dehydrated or nervous, but a frequent dry mouth could suggest an underlying problem.

Common causes of dry mouth

An unusually dry mouth, or xerostomia, is more common as you get older, affecting around one in five elderly people. Persistent sufferers should visit their doctor or dentist to determine the dry mouth cause, as salivary glands that are not working properly can be the result of an underlying medical problem. Some common causes include the following:

  • Lifestyle choices: Stress, smoking, or chewing tobacco can affect the normal production of saliva in your mouth.
  • Dehydration: This occurs when you don’t have enough fluid in your body to produce normal levels of saliva, which can stem from conditions such as fever, vomiting, or diarrhoea, or even just not drinking enough water.
  • A blocked nose: Constantly breathing through your mouth can sometimes cause dry mouth.
  • Certain medications: Dry mouth can be a common side effect for many prescription and non-prescription drugs, including antihistamines, antidepressants, and diuretics.
  • Nerve damage: Damage to the nerves in the head or neck from injury or surgery can cause dry mouth.
  • Certain medical treatments: Damage to the saliva glands from radiation and chemotherapy treatments to the head and neck can affect the amount of saliva produced.
  • Certain medical conditions: Diabetes and autoimmune disorders such as Sjögren's syndrome, a condition where the immune system attacks and damages the salivary glands, can be causes of dry mouth.
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Dry mouth treatment

Establishing what's causing you to have a dry mouth could enable you to improve your symptoms. If your doctor is able to determine that a particular medicine has caused your dry mouth, then he or she may suggest a lower dose or offer an alternative medication.

If you have dry mouth, what to do is to maintain good oral hygiene to prevent the risk of associated dental problems. Visiting your dentist regularly to keep on top of your oral health will allow your dentist to identify problems early on and treat them without delay.

There are a number of things you can do to try to improve the situation. Dry mouth remedies can really help to keep your mouth moist, reduce discomfort, improve your general wellbeing, and maintain good oral health. Try these simple steps to help relieve a dry mouth:

What to do for a dry mouth

  • Drink more water: Increase the amount of fluid you are consuming each day.
  • Suck on ice cubes: The slow melting ice will soothe a sore mouth, and help to keep it moist.
  • Chew gum: Sugar-free gum can help to stimulate glands to produce more saliva.
  • Breathe through your nose: Trying to breathe through your nose rather than through your mouth will help to prevent your mouth from drying out.
  • Use a SLS free toothpaste: Most toothpastes contain SLS, a foaming agent that may cause irritation and dryness in the mouth. Toothpaste without SLS, like Zendium, are recommended for people who suffer from dry mouth. Saliva is important to keep the mouth healthy – including through enzymes and proteins in saliva that naturally protect the mouth. Zendium contains natural enzymes and proteins to protect the mouth naturally and uses mild ingredients to respect the mouth’s delicate tissues.
  • Make some lifestyle changes: Avoid smoking, alcohol (including mouthwashes containing alcohol), and drinks with caffeine, which can all make a dry mouth worse.
  • Use a humidifier: This will add moisture to the air in your bedroom, and help to reduce your dry mouth symptoms during the night.
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Having a dry mouth not only brings discomfort but can also cause problems with oral health, so don't suffer in silence. Discussing your concerns with your doctor or dentist may provide a dry mouth remedy that works to improve the production of saliva in your mouth, while healthy lifestyle changes and good oral care choices will all serve to benefit you in the long-term. 

The advice in this article does not constitute medical advice; it is solely available for information purposes. We recommend that you consult your dentist if you are experiencing any oral care issue.

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