December 18, 2014
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What to know about dry mouth

Does your mouth feel dry and sticky when you first wake up in the morning? Do you feel the urge to drink lots of water? Dry mouth can make it hard for you to swallow, chew your food or speak clearly. With a dry mouth your teeth can decay very quickly, and sometimes there are no warning signs for this condition. Untreated dry mouth can also contribute to bad breath, and sometimes others will notice the stale odor.

Dry mouth is a daily problem that makes you feel uncomfortable while you swallow, eat or speak. It is a condition in which you do not produce enough saliva (spit) to keep your mouth feeling wet. Your physician or nurse do not always talk about dry mouth as a side effect when they give you a prescription for medicine, but dry mouth can be caused by the medicine you take. Whatever you do, don't stop taking your medicine but mention dry mouth to your nurse as soon as you can. Dry mouth can also be a sign of diseases and other conditions like diabetes - so make sure you tell your nurse or dental hygienist about dry mouth if it becomes a problem for you.

Dry mouth symptoms

  • Dry or sticky feeling in the mouth like your mouth is stuffed with cotton balls.
  • Burning feeling in mouth or tongue and sometimes tongue feels like shoe leather.
  • Difficulty or discomfort when chewing, swallowing or speaking.
  • Dry lips and throat or mouth sores.

Do you have dry mouth?

Ask yourself the following questions.

  1. Are you taking one or more prescription drugs on a daily basis?
  2. Does your mouth feel sticky and dry when you wake up in the morning?
  3. Do you have difficulty swallowing or speaking?
  4. Do you sip a lot of water to keep your mouth from feeling dry?
  5. Does your throat feel dry and does your mouth sometimes burn?
  6. Does your tongue burn or has it changed to a darker red color?
  7. Does your tongue sometimes feel as dry as shoe leather?
  8. Do you sometimes get mouth or tongue sores that will not go away?

If you responded "yes" to one or more questions, talk to your physician and visit your dental professional for information on what you can do to help alleviate the problem.

Dry mouth comfort tips

  • Sip room-temperature water throughout the day and night and carry a water bottle with you at all times.
  • Avoid drinking lots of water at an extreme temperature (very hot or very cold).
  • Only drink sugarless drinks and avoid carbonated beverages.
  • Include a beverage like water during meals. Drink water before, during and after the meal.
  • Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless candy to stimulate salivary flow.
  • Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol. Both alcoholic beverages and smoking dry out the mouth and make you more susceptible to gum diseases and oral cancer.
  • Select an alcohol-free mouth rinse if you're in the habit of using a mouthwash. Read the label and make sure alcohol is not listed as an ingredient.
  • Try using a nighttime humidifier to moisten room air.

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