A dry mouth feeling can be very uncomfortable and can sometimes feel raw and sore.
Saliva helps to protect your teeth against tooth decay by washing away food and bacteria, and by neutralising plaque acid. If you have a dry mouth these protective functions of your saliva can be reduced, putting you at a greater risk of getting tooth decay. Stale food debris and bacteria can also leave a bad taste and cause bad breath.
Saliva normally lubricates your mouth to help you chew and swallow food, and to help avoid cuts and grazes to the skin in your mouth. Patients with a dry mouth may therefore have difficulty eating and swallowing their food, and may experience ulcers from more cuts and grazes.
Manage your risk of tooth decay
- Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste with at least 1400ppm of fluoride.
- Your dentist may wish to prescribe you a special high fluoride toothpaste.
- Use an alcohol-free fluoride mouthwash twice each day, at a separate time to brushing (E.g. after lunch and dinner).
- Avoid having sugary drinks (fizzy pop, squashes, cordials, fruit juices and smoothies) and snacks (chocolates, biscuits, cakes, sweets, ice cream, ice lollies) between mealtimes. Instead have your sugary treats with meals.
Keep your mouth feeling comfortable
- Drink plenty of still (not sparkling) plain (sugar-free) water – take regular sips during the day, while eating, and keep some water by your bed at night.
- Suck (but don’t crunch) ice cubes or sugar-free ice lollies.
- Chew sugar-free gum or suck (but don’t crunch) sugar-free sweets or mints.
- Use a lip balm if your lips are dry.
- Ask a pharmacist about treatments you can buy to help keep your mouth moist such as gels, sprays, tablets and lozenges.
- Don’t have lots of drinks that may dehydrate you like those containing alcohol or caffeine (icluding tea and coffee).
- Avoid having lots of acidic foods and drink – like fruit and fruit juices (including lemons juice) and smoothies.
- Don’t smoke.
Visit your dentist
- You should book a checkup with your dentist if you have a dry mouth feeling for the first time or if you haven’t discussed it with your dentist before.
- Patients with a dry mouth will usually be advised to have a dental checkup every 3-6 months.
- Your dentist may wish to refer you to a specialist in a dental hospital or general hospital for further investigations and advice.