What is dry mouth?

The medical term for dry mouth is Xerostomia.

Dry mouth can be associated with a number of medical conditions including facial palsy.

Why do we need saliva?

  • Saliva cleanses, lubricates and protects your mouth.
  • 99 per cent of saliva is water for lubrication, allowing you to chew swallow, digest, taste and speak easily.
  • One per cent of saliva is made up of essential enzymes and proteins which help to control the effects of harmful bacteria in your mouth.

What Kinds of problems result from a dry mouth?

  • Discomfort
  • Bad breath (Halitosis)
  • Difficulty chewing and swallowing
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Increased risk of tooth decay, gum disease an oral infections
  • Dry and cracked lips
  • Dry, rough tongue
  • Mouth ulcers or sore mouth
  • Altered taste

What can you do to reduce the discomfort and problems associated with dry mouth?

  • Ensure you drink plenty of water, taking regular sips throughout the day.
  • Always carry water with you when you go out to keep your mouth moist and sip water with meals.
  • Add extra gravy, butter and sauces to food as a lubricant to make it easier to chew and swallow.
  • Eating sugar free sweets may help stimulate the flow of saliva but avoid chewing gum due to its effect on your facial palsy.
  • Brush your teeth after meals to ensure your mouth is clean and free from any food residue.
  • Have regular dental and hygienist check ups to ensure your teeth and gums remain in a healthy condition.
  • If you have sensitive teeth or sore, bleeding gums, use a soft tooth brush but try to work up to a medium brush when you are able to
  • Alternatively artificial saliva products including mouth washes, toothpaste, gels, gum, denture grip, saliva stimulating tablets and sprays can be bought directly from your local pharmacy or ordered on line.

What should you avoid in order to minimise the problems of dry mouth?

  • Avoid hot, spicy foods, acidic foods (eg. orange juice and tomatoes) and salty foods.
  • Do not use mouth washes that contain alcohol and try to avoid drinking alcohol as this increases the risk of dehydration and dry mouth.
  • Avoid toothpastes which contain sodium lauryl sulphate as this can dry out the protective mucous lining in the mouth.

This leaflet has been reproduced with kind permission from  FTS-UK  www.FTS-UK.org