Is your morning toast suddenly drier and harder to swallow?
Does your mouth feel sticky?
Dry mouth sufferers often don’t notice that they are suffering from dry mouth until their saliva flow has dropped by 50%.
The effects of dry mouth may be severe, moderate or mild.
Mild sufferers of dry mouth are unlikely to even know they are affected. Maybe they notice food sticking to the roof of their mouth or food that simply won’t go down with ease.
Moderate sufferers may also be unaware, even though they’re licking their lips constantly and finding their mouth feels sticky or dry more often than not. They might be avoiding certain foods, and denture-wearers will find that their dentures don’t stay in place.
Severe sufferers will find that dry mouth has a serious impact on their quality of life. They may experience a sore mouth or tongue when eating, cracked lips, blisters and mouth ulcers. Their dentist may be seeing rampant decay, serious plaque levels and food debris, fungal infections, a “pebbled” tongue and red and shiny tongue and cheeks.
Dry mouth can be treated.
Prescription drugs that cause dry mouth can often be replaced with alternative drugs.
Artificial saliva sprays can moisten the mouth and increase saliva production.
Some simple dos and don’ts:
- Sucking sugarless hard candy or chewing sugarless gum can help your salivary glands produce more saliva.
- Sip water or other sugarless drinks often. Keep a container of water nearby at all times.
- Drinking water while you’re eating will make chewing and swallowing easier.
- Use a straw when you drink.
- Take small bites and chew your food well before swallowing.
- Avoid caffeinated and alcoholic drinks and commercial mouthwashes.
- Don’t smoke.
- Avoid spicy and salty foods. They can irritate a dry mouth.
- Eat soft, moist foods that are cool or at room temperature. Put fruits and vegetables in a blender to soften and smooth them. Try soft-cooked chicken and fish, cereal soaked in milk, and sugarless popsicles.
- Avoid foods that stick to the roof of your mouth, such as peanut butter.
- Moisten food with broth, soup, sauces, gravy, or yogurt.
- Use a cool mist humidifier at night.
- Keep your mouth clean. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush and rinse your mouth before and after eating with plain water or a mild mouth rinse (1 quart water, mixed with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon baking soda). Floss your teeth daily.
- If food has been sticking to your mouth more than normal, or if you find it difficult to swallow you may be experiencing the early signs of dry mouth. Don’t ignore these early signs and let your dry mouth become a more serious oral health issue.