Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is very common but not often talked about. It affects around 1 in 4 adults, especially women, and more than half of elderly people.
It is important to treat dry mouth as it can lead to oral health issues such as cavities and infections.
What is dry mouth?
Dry mouth varies from occasional discomfort to a severe health problem that can have a big impact on your quality of life.
In mild cases, you might experience a thirsty sensation and feel the need to drink more, suck sweets, or apply lip balm frequently.
In the worst cases, it can affect your sense of taste and cause difficulty eating, chewing, swallowing, speaking, or even breathing. It might lead to disrupted sleep or insomnia as well.
What causes dry mouth?
There are lots of reasons why you might develop a dry mouth. Here are some of the most common factors.
- Certain medicines, including over 1,800 commonly prescribed medications (e.g. anti-depressants, antihistamines)
- Hormonal fluctuations
- Breathing through your mouth rather than your nose
- Vitamin deficiency
- Oral Hygiene
In situations such as the above, the dry mouth may be able to be remedied through life-style or habit-forming changes, such as stopping smoking, remembering to breathe through your nose, sipping water or reducing stress.
- Chronic disease (e.g. diabetes, Sjögren’s syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis)
- Salivary gland disease
- Head and neck surgery and radiotherapy
What are the consequences of dry mouth?
When you have a dry mouth, you have less saliva. Saliva plays a key role in protecting your mouth, so reduced levels of this ‘salivary protection’ may have side effects. Dry mouth can lead to:
- Bad breath
- Irritation in the mouth
- Mouth infections
- Ulcers or canker sores
- Tooth loss
These consequences can all affect your quality of life. In addition to pain or discomfort, they might result in low self-confidence, communication difficulties, a fear of bad breath, or other worries.
Why is saliva so important?
Saliva is important stuff! As well as keeping the mouth moist and comfortable, it plays a vital everyday role in protecting our general health and well-being.
Saliva provides a protective barrier against the germs that can enter your body via your mouth.
Its other jobs include:
- Safeguarding your mouth against ulcers, sores, and the effects of friction
- Neutralizing the acids which can lead to dental plaque and tooth decay
- Beginning the digestive process
- Helping us to chew, swallow, taste, and even speak
How can I tell if I suffer from dry mouth?
- Do you take one or several medications on a daily basis?
- Do you have cracking at the corners of the mouth?
- Do you need to constantly drink water?
- Do you wake up during the night with a dry mouth?
- Do you have difficulty in swallowing dry food?
- Do you suffer from bad breath?
- Do you regularly suffer from oral disorders such as mouth ulcers?
- Do you suffer from a chronic disease (e.g. diabetes, Sjögren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis)?
If you answered yes to two or more of these questions, you may have dry mouth.
How can I get rid of dry mouth?
Firstly, to counteract the dryness, your mouth will need regular, effective moisturization. You will also need to help protect your teeth and gums by finding a solution that recreates the natural benefits of saliva.
Our innovative GUM® HYDRAL® solutions provide immediate and long-lasting relief from dry mouth. It stimulates saliva, while at the same time protecting your mouth from the damage that dryness can cause.