Dry mouth can happen to anyone. It is not a natural occurrence with age, however, it does occur with certain health issues—such as diabetes and autoimmune diseases (i.e. Lupus)—and certain medications—such as chemotherapy, anti-depressants and anti-hypertensives. This makes the condition more prevalent in the senior population. When dry mouth conditions persist, they can have a negative effect on a person’s oral health as well as their quality of life.Dry mouth happens when saliva is absent or decreased. It can be very painful and uncomfortable: lips become dry, mouth sores can develop, thrush can occur, and chewing, swallowing and speaking can become impossible. Bad breath is also a side effect of dry mouth.Besides the discomfort of living with dry mouth, there are health issues as well. Saliva plays an important defense against tooth decay. With the absence of saliva, decay can become rapid and result in tooth loss and other dental issues. Regular checkups twice a year with your dentist and hygienist are highly recommended in the fight against decay and gum disease attributed to dry mouth.Here are a few ways to alleviate the symptoms of dry mouth:
- Increase water intake to lubricate the mouth and prevent dehydration;
- Use alcohol free mouth washes;
- Use over-the-counter saliva substitutes;
- Use sugar free lozenges and gum to stimulate the flow of saliva;
- Speak to your doctor or dentist about medications to stimulate the salivary gland.