Tips for managing dry mouth (xerostomia)

By: staff, On: May 22, 2011,
Posted In: Dental Hygiene

Medication is the number one cause of xerostomia, most of the medicines that you take to treat high blood pressure, diabetes, even antidepressants cause dry mouth.     Other culprits are systemic diseases such as diabetes, autoimmune diseases like Sjogren’s syndrome, head and neck radiation, alcoholism, and smoking.   Whatever the cause we want to help you manage the symptoms.

 Many of our patients develop xerostomia and the problems that come with it .  Xerostomia can be a mild nuisance or a big problem.  Xerostomia makes it difficult to chew and swallow food, makes it difficult to speak and pronounce words correctly  , makes it difficult to keep dentures in place , and causes rampant decay.   Here are some tips to treat xerostomia.

Reduce decay risk:  without saliva you are more prone to cavities, make sure to brush 2-3 times a day.  Use a fluoride rinse, neutral sodium fluoride is the best option.   If decay gets out of control we may put you on special fluoride toothpaste or make fluoride trays for you to use at home.   Eliminate sugar and citric acid from your diet.  This includes sodas and fruit juices.    Chew sugar free gum and have sugar free hard candies.  This will stimulate salivary flow.  Gums with xylitol or sorbitol will actually fight cavities.

Manage dry mouth:   sip on water frequently throughout the day.  Use mouth rinses made for dry mouth, such as Biotine, Oasis, or Act .  Never use a mouth rinse that contains alcohol because alcohol dries you out even more.  Do not use a toothpaste that contain  Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), which is the foaming agent in toothpaste. Most children’s  toothpaste do not contain SLS.  See if your doctor can change your medicines if possible.

Dry mouth due to radiation:  your oncologist can prescribe medicines to help with your salivary flow.  Sometimes the salivary glands are completely destroyed so reducing decay is your priority.  Chewing sugar free gum may not help with salivary flow but can still help with fighting cavities.  Good oral hygiene is essential and modify your diet.

Dentures:  if you have dentures and you suffer from dry mouth you may be more prone to sores and fungal infections.  Never wear your dentures at night, soak them in water.  Use a mouth rinse for dry mouth and spray on your dentures throughout the day. 

Biotine has a great line of defense for dry mouth sufferers.  Biotine  mouth rinse, toothpaste, gum, and a gel which is like Vaseline that you can coat your mouth with before bedtime.

I hope this was helpful. We published a full version on our facebook that you can share with anyone you think this could help.  





  1. Welcome to the blogging world, Dr. Wilhoite! I’m looking forward to seeing your posts!

    Comment by Jaime Faulkner — May 23, 2011 @ 1:22 pm

  2. Thanks for being a follower Jaime. 🙂

    Comment by renee — May 25, 2011 @ 12:47 pm

  3. I have been dealing with a dry mouth for a while now. I suck on ice all the time, but my dentist told my to not chew on the ice. I didn’t know not to use listerine, thanks for the tips Dr. Wilhoite.

    Comment by Lisa C. — May 27, 2011 @ 10:20 pm

  4. Ice chips are a great way to help with dry mouth, (just don’t chew the ice and break a tooth!). I’m glad we helped. Thanks for the comment Lisa C.

    Comment by Renee Anderson — May 29, 2011 @ 1:51 pm

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