Having a dry mouth – or xerostomia – is often caused by dehydration, which can be the result of having a hangover or sleeping with your mouth open.
The condition can also be caused by medication – especially blood pressure, depression tablets and heart tablets. People of all ages can get a dry mouth from time to time. For some people, having a dry mouth can be a chronic problem. For people over 55, there is a 40% greater chance that you will get a dry mouth than a younger adult. To help you understand what causes a dry mouth, and how to manage it, read the facts and top tips below.
- Xerostomia or dry mouth is an oral condition that affects the flow of saliva. The condition causes the mouth to feel dry.
- Saliva is needed to enable the mouth to work properly, as it keeps the mouth moist and ensures food can be broken down to help you swallow. Saliva is also an important cleanser, as it neutralizes plaque acids and therefore, having dry mouth can increase the risk of tooth decay and gym disease.
- Having a dry mouth can affect the taste of food, make it hard to eat dry foods and can result in bad breath. These effects can result in mental health illnesses and social anxiety.
- The condition can also affect sleep by causing disruption due to coughing. The condition is worsened at night as our mouths produce less saliva than during the day.
Currently, there is no way of actually preventing the problem, but there are ways to ease the symptoms. Here are some top tips:
- Make sure to visit the dentist regularly. Having dry mouth can increase the risk of gum disease and tooth decay and so regular treatment can ensure that complications are minimised.
- Use a toothpaste with a high fluoride volume (at least 1350 to 1500ppm (parts per million)) and avoid products that contain sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) as this can irritate the mouth and worsen the condition.
- Chew sugar-free gum between meals to help ease dry mouth as chewing will stimulate the mouth to produce more saliva. Other products recommended by your dentist, such as rinses, gels, pastes and lozenges, can also help to keep your mouth moist.
- Drink water throughout the day to help hydrate your body and mouth.