Gum, candy and artificial saliva can help relieve dry mouth
BY DR. KOMOROFF Universal Uclick
Friday, October 26, 2012
10/26/12 at 5:45 AM
Dear Doctor K: My mouth and throat are always parched, even though I'm constantly sipping water. I'd appreciate any advice you can offer.
Dear Reader: Most of the time dry mouth, also called xerostomia, causes more discomfort than damage. But severe cases can cause complications. Dry mouth can rob you of your sense of taste and can make chewing slow and swallowing difficult. Also, because saliva is important for dental health, dry mouth can contribute to tooth decay and periodontal disease. My colleague Dr. Harvey Simon recently wrote about dry mouth in the Harvard Men's Health Watch. Here's what he and I advise.
First, be sure you're well-hydrated. It sounds like you drink plenty of water. Still, the membranes in your mouth and throat can dry out if you breathe dry air through your mouth. That's especially true at night. Usually, the reason people breathe through their mouth at night is that their nose is congested. If mouth breathing contributes to your problem, nasal decongestants may help restore nose breathing. Also, a bedroom humidifier can add moisture to the air you breathe.
Medications are common culprits. Many commonly used medicines have "anticholinergic" effects, which cut the flow of saliva, producing a dry mouth. Common offenders include antihistamines, tricyclic antidepressants, antispasmodics and certain drugs used for Parkinson's disease, overactive bladder and chronic bronchitis.
Your doctor should check for oral yeast infection (thrush) and for problems that affect the salivary glands themselves, such as Sjogren's syndrome.
Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless candy to stimulate saliva. Avoid dry or very spicy foods. Drink plenty of water, but steer clear of alcoholic and caffeinated beverages. And don't forget regular dental care.
Finally, try using artificial saliva products. These are available over-the-counter as sprays, swabs and solutions.
Write Dr. K at www.AskDoctorK.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut, Kansas City, MO 64106