Saliva is a natural production which helps swallowing, talking, taste, and protects the soft tissues.
Saliva is produced from the Salivary Glands of which there are six major glands and thousands of tiny glands on your lips, cheeks and palate.
Where salvia is reduced there is a risk of dental decay (caries), bad breath, altered taste and sore mouths.
Saliva may be reduced by radiotherapy or chemotherapy, various drugs particularly the anti-hypertensives, in diabetes, in anxiety, stress and depression, or in salivary gland disease. Ageing also reduces the production of saliva.
Steps Towards Managing a Dry Mouth
- Sip on water or other non-sugary fluids throughout the day. Rinse with water after meals. Keep water at your bedside.
- Stimulate saliva with sugar free chewing gums or diabetic sweets.
- Always take water or non-alcoholic drinks with meals and avoid spicy, dry or hard crunchy foods such as biscuits. Take small bites and eat slowly.
- Eat soft creamy foods (casseroles, soups) or cool foods with a high liquid content- melon, grapes or ice cream. Moisten foods with gravies, sauces, extra oil, margarine, salad dressings, sour cream, mayonnaise or yoghurt. Pineapple has an enzyme that helps clean the mouth.
- Avoid anything that may worsen dryness such as:
- Alcohol (including in mouthwashes)
- Drugs, unless they are essential (eg antidepressants)
- Caffeine (coffee, some soft drinks)
- Protect against dental caries by avoiding sugary foods, drinks and by:
- Reducing sugar intake(avoid snaking and eating last thing at night
- Avoiding sticky foods such as toffee
- Keeping your mouth very clean (twice daily brushing and flossing)
- Using a fluoride toothpaste
- Using fluoride gels or mouthwashes (0.05% fluoride) daily before going to bed
- Having regular dental checks
- Protect again thrush, gum problems and halitosis by:
- Keeping your mouth as moist as possible
- Keeping your mouth very clean
- Rinsing twice daily with chlorhexidine (eg Corsodyl, Chlorohex, Eludril ) or triclosan (eg plax)
- Brushing or scraping your tongue
- Keeping dentures out at night
- Disinfect dentures in hypochlorite (eg Milton, Dentural)
- Protect the lips with a lip salve or petroleum jelly (eg Vaseline)
- Consider a humidifier for the bedroom.