Dry mouth (also known as xerostomia) is a disorder that occurs due to insufficient saliva secretion or salivary gland dysfunction. In recent months, following the outbreak of the new coronavirus pandemic, some cases of dry mouth have been reported related to COVID-19.
What Causes Dry Mouth
Most cases of dry mouth can be attributed to a variety of other factors, including; drug side effects, Type 1 diabetes, hyperthyroidism, some viral infections such as mumps, and even vitamin deficiencies.
Treating Dry Mouth
We have started seeing patients who have been treating symptoms of dry mouth by sucking on hard candy, chewing gum or drinking sugary drinks. This “self-medication” can lead to increased dental health issues, including accelerating tooth decay. Instead, try the following:
- Chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free hard candies (look for Xylitol on the table which is a sugar substitute. to stimulate the flow of saliva.
- Limit your caffeine intake because caffeine can make your mouth drier.
- Don’t use mouthwashes that contain alcohol because they can be drying.
- Stop all tobacco use if you smoke or chew tobacco.
- Sip water regularly.
- Try over-the-counter saliva substitutes — look for products containing xylitol, such as Mouth Kote or Oasis Moisturizing Mouth Spray, or others such as Biotene Oral Balance
- Try a mouthwash designed for dry mouth — especially one that contains xylitol, such as Biotene Dry Mouth Oral Rinse or ACT Total Care Dry Mouth Mouthwash, which also offer protection against tooth decay.
- Avoid using over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants — they can make your symptoms worse.
- Breathe through your nose, not your mouth.
- Add moisture to the air at night with a room humidifier.
Tell Your Hygienist
If you or a family member is experiencing dry mouth, tell your hygienist. They can check to see if a medication may be the cause or if something else is to blame. They can also recommend, or the dentist can prescribe, an appropriate treatment we have available at the office.