A single copy of this article may be reprinted for personal, noncommercial use only.
Dry mouth treatment: Tips for controlling dry mouthBy Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dry-mouth/AN02112
- With Mayo Clinic prosthodontist
Alan Carr, D.M.D.read biographyclose window
Alan Carr, D.M.D.Alan B. Carr, D.M.D.
Dr. Alan B. Carr, Department of Dental Specialties at Mayo Clinic, is a consultant in the Division of Prosthodontics and a professor of dentistry at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.
Dr. Carr, a native of Hattiesburg, MS., received his prosthodontics training at Mayo. Following his training he has was an assistant professor at Marquette University and then became a full professor at Ohio State University where his clinical duties included Director of Maxillofacial Prosthetics at the James Cancer Hospital. He returned to Mayo in 2000.
Dr. Carr is board certified by the American Board of Prosthodontics. He served in the Air Force and has degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi, University of Mississippi and Mayo Graduate School of Medicine. He also is a member of numerous professional organizations including the American Academy of Maxillofacial Prosthetics, the American College of Prosthodontists and the American Dental Association. He has made dozens of international and national presentations, and is author of a dental textbook.
His clinical practice focuses on combined prosthodontics and reconstruction of patients with disabling oral conditions. His research interests include oral and craniofacial endosseous implants, tobacco cessation, and the impact of oral health on general health, especially for patients with chronic illness and the elderly.
Dry mouth treatment: Tips for controlling dry mouth
I frequently have a dry mouth. What can I do to relieve this problem?
from Alan Carr, D.M.D.
The best way to treat dry mouth — known medically as xerostomia (zeer-o-STOE-me-uh) — depends on what's causing it. You can do some things to relieve dry mouth temporarily. But for the best long-term dry mouth remedy, you need to address its cause.
To relieve your dry mouth:
- Chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free hard candies to stimulate the flow of saliva. For some people, xylitol, which is often found in sugar-free gum or sugar-free candies, may cause diarrhea or cramps if consumed in large amounts.
- Limit your caffeine intake because caffeine can make your mouth drier.
- Don't use mouthwashes that contain alcohol because they can be drying.
- Stop all tobacco use if you smoke or chew tobacco.
- Sip water regularly.
- Try over-the-counter saliva substitutes — look for products containing xylitol, such as Mouth Kote or Oasis Moisturizing Mouth Spray, or ones containing carboxymethylcellulose (kahr-bok-see-meth-ul-SEL-u-lohs) or hydroxyethyl cellulose (hi-drok-see-ETH-ul SEL-u-lohs), such as Biotene Oral Balance.
- Try a mouthwash designed for dry mouth — especially one that contains xylitol, such as Biotene Dry Mouth Oral Rinse or ACT Total Care Dry Mouth Rinse, which also offer protection against tooth decay.
- Avoid using over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants because they can make your symptoms worse.
- Breathe through your nose, not your mouth.
- Add moisture to the air at night with a room humidifier.
Saliva is important to maintain the health of your teeth and mouth. If you frequently have a dry mouth, taking these steps to protect your oral health may also help your condition:
- Avoid sugary or acidic foods and candies because they increase the risk of tooth decay.
- Brush with a fluoride toothpaste. Ask your dentist if you might benefit from prescription fluoride toothpaste.
- Use a fluoride rinse or brush-on fluoride gel before bedtime.
- Visit your dentist at least twice yearly to detect and treat tooth decay or other dental problems.
If these steps don't improve your dry mouth, talk to your doctor or dentist. The cause could be a medication or another condition. Medications are one of the most common causes of dry mouth. Long-term relief from your dry mouth may mean stopping or changing your medication or its dosage, or addressing underlying health issues.
- Dry mouth. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/OralHealth/Topics/DryMouth/DryMouth.htm. Accessed April 23, 2013.
- Xerostomia. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dental_disorders/symptoms_of_dental_and_oral_disorders/xerostomia.html. Accessed April 23, 2013.
- Fox R, et al. Treatment of dry mouth and other non-ocular sicca symptoms in Sjogren's syndrome. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 25, 2013.
- Dry mouth (xerostomia) — Treatment. American Academy of Oral Medicine. http://www.aaom.com/patients/treatment-of-dry-mouth-xerostomia/. Accessed May 28, 2013.
- Sheridan PJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 1, 2013.
- Salinas TJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 26, 2013.
- Bader JD, et al. Results from the Xylitol for Adult Caries Trial (X-ACT). The Journal of the American Dental Association. 2013;144:21.