People of all ages get dry mouth once in a while. Dry mouth is most likely caused by dehydration. Hangovers or sleeping with your mouth open can lead to a dry mouth.
Having a dry mouth can also be a chronic problem for some people, which can impact adversely on their daily living, even making some people feel that they don’t want to socialise.
If you are over 55 years of age, you have a 40% greater chance of dry mouth than a younger adult. Dry mouth – or xerostomia – is more common than you might think.
To help you understand the dry mouth condition here are some facts:
- Dry mouth is a condition that affects the flow of saliva, which then causes the mouth to feel dry.
- Your mouth needs saliva to be able to work properly so it is a very important component, keeping your mouth moist and helping to break down a part of your food to help you swallow. It also acts as a cleanser, neutralizing plaque acids.
- Dry mouth can affect the taste of your food and make it really hard to eat dry foods. It also increases the chance of having bad breath.
- It can affect your speech.
- Sleep can be broken by dry mouth owing to disruption from coughing. During the night, saliva is produced less than throughout the day.
- There is a higher risk of tooth decay and gum disease as less saliva means reduced hygiene.
- Medication can cause dry mouth as a side effect- especially blood pressure, depression tablets and heart tablets.
- Dry mouth can also be a direct result of a medical condition, for example diabetes and lupus.
- Women at 27% are actually more likely to suffer from chronic dry mouth than men at 21%.
- Mental health illnesses and social anxiety might also occur for sufferers of chronic dry mouth.
Currently, there is no way of actually preventing the problem, but there are ways to ease the symptoms.
- Visit your dentist regularly as dry mouth causes a higher risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
- Use a toothpaste with a high fluoride volume containing at least 1350 to 1500ppm (parts per million). Note that some products contain sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), and people with dry mouth can sometimes find this irritates the mouth which can worsen the condition.
- Chewing sugar-free gum can help ease dry mouth as your mouth makes more saliva.
- Your dentist might recommend products such as rinses, gels, pastes and lozenges which can help to keep your mouth moist.
- Drinking water throughout the day, even if you take small sips, will help hydrate your body and mouth.