Dry Mouth Survival Guide

You walk into a party reception room and are greeted with trays of delicious hors d’oeuvres. Everyone is encouraging you to try them, but you can’t. First you need to get to the bar on the opposite side of the room so you can get a glass of water to thelp the food go down.

You are about to make an important business presentation. You should be nervous about the speech and the outcome, but the only thing you can think about is whether your mouth will get so dry that you can no longer manipulate your tongue.

Or maybe, it is just another morning when you wake up with that pasty feeling on your tongue and the roof of your mouth – and a bit of nausea – and you know your mouth is full of yeast again.

Yes you can find dry mouth relief

Although often secondary to an underlying cause and often overlooked by physicians and dentists, dry mouth may be one of the biggest annoyances of your chronic medical condition. It is one that requires you to be your own advocate, researcher and motivator. When you do, you will find that with a bit of effort, commitment to a routine, and support from a specialist who deals with and understands dry mouth, you can find some relief.

The first step is often finding that specialist. Don’t be shy. Ask your doctors, your dentist, your ophthalmologist, and even your friends if they know anyone in your area that deals with dry mouth. Often no one will refer you to that specialist unless you specifically ask for it. As soon as you have found someone who understands what you are feeling and sees it as a true medical condition, and who will provide you with knowledge, options, advice and supportive ear, you will start on the road to finding relief.

The next step is to start experimenting with the many different products and tricks available until you find:

  1. The ones that works best for you
  2. The ones that you can realistically commit to using as directed.
  3. The ones you can count on as back up for those times when nothing seems to help or when you do not have acces to water.
  4. The ones essential to dental health

So what are the options ? For me, it has been a lot of trial an error, but this is what I have found works:

  • Carrying a water bottle at ALL times is a must.

    • There is just not anything that replaces water for helping you swallow and speak and to keep your mouth clean between brushing.
  • Having a pH neutralizing mouth spray containing Xylitol at all times is another must.

    • You will notice the difference when you get used to the feeling of having a neutralized mouth. Remember, by the time you realize you have dry mouth, you may have gotten pretty used to many of the symptoms. Keeping your mouth hydrated and pH neutral is critical to your teeth and to maintaining some moisture in your mouth. There are many brands of sprays on the market; however, some are too sweet and sticky to me, while others do not seem to offer relief for more than a minute or two. However, try them all if you can until you figure out which one you like best. I happen to like the CTX2 spray. (Only available in the US.
  • Xylitol Mints.

    • I like Spray but there are lots of options on the market. The trick is to make sure they are not too strong (or it will feel like they are burning your dry tongue). The mints are a perfect companion to the mouth spray. Just pop one in your mouth on your way into a meeting or a party and you will be fine long enough to get your water !
  • Invisalign trays for sleeping.

    • These are thin rubbery appliances that cover your teeth and the root of your mouth. In my experience, my dry mouth was causing my tongue to stick to the roof of my mouth during sleep, making an annoying clicking sound whenever it released. My husband was happy when the trays solved that. In addition, the trays trap the moisture under it and can help your mouth stay moister overnight. You can line the trays with a remineralizing paste (like MI Paste) to help protect your teeth.
  • Anti-fungal rinses to prevent or treat yeast infection.

    • My specialist worked with a local compounding pharmacy and created a small capsule filled with a mixture of ketoconazole (antifungal) and clobetasol (steroid), which  I can dissolve in water and rinse with every night. It makes a huge difference and it does not matter how tired I am, I never skip this step. However, if for some reason, I have a flare up of yeast, I add some fluconazole tablets to help control the yeast. Speak to your doctor about the best options for you.
  • Massage your parotide glands

    • Massage your parotid glands by hand or with a little hand massager ( I was referred to a Magic fly massager ) to stimulate saliva production. I am not sure how well this works, and to be honest I don’t do it regularly enough, but I try.
  • Oil

    • Sounds crazy, but rinsing with olive oil really helps, especially on those days when nothing seems to break through the dryness, or your mouth is feeling irritated. Just make sure not to spit it down your drain !
  • Salagen (pilocarpine) a cholinergic drug

    • Salagen (pilocarpine) a cholinergic drug that can stimulate salivary and tear production. Everyone has suggested I use this and slowly get my body used to it. I have to admit that I do not find it helpful and I hate the other side effects. But I am trying to be diligent about giving it a chance. If it works for you, you are lucky !
  • A support network

    • Although we don’t like to complain all the time, letting your friends and family know you are dealing with dry mouth can make a big difference. My husband tries to make sure I have water in the car, at a party, or wherever we go. My friends always offer me a water or Perrier when I show up to their houses, they know not to push a food  when I politely decline and they try to make things a bit easier. Having the support of friends and family is the best medicine around. Don’t short change yourself from this treatment. It doesn’t mean you have to complain – just inform and let them know what you need.
  • Lip moisturizer

    • If you are like me, you will find that keeping moisturizer on your lips seems to make it a bit easier to speak even when your mouth is dry. I don’t know why but it works for me.
  • A cold humidifier

    • If you live in a cold climate a humidifier is an absolute must. Keep one in your bedroom, your office and anywhere you spend a lot of time. If you have dry mouth, you may also have dry eyes (Part of Sjögren’s syndrome). A humidifier can be very beneficial for that as well.
add moisture for your dry eyes

Moisture for dry eyes and dry mouth

I know it all sounds overwhelming. After all, dry mouth may be only one part of your overall chronic disease or medication side effects. Do not worry, once you make the effort to try things and find what works for you, you will notice such a difference that none of this will seem like a burden – just a relief.

Wishing you lots of smiles, relief and comfort. Just remember, your are not alone.

 

Source: Connections, Sjögren’s Society of Canada, Volume 11, Issue 1 p.1-5