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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is a lack of saliva (spit). Saliva helps protect your teeth from decay and your mouth from bacterial infection. Saliva also helps you chew, swallow, and digest food. Dry mouth happens when your saliva glands are not working properly. This causes a decrease in the amount of saliva your mouth produces.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You have trouble swallowing.
- Your mouth, face, or neck are swollen.
- You have trouble opening your mouth.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have a fever.
- You have tooth pain.
- Your gums are irritated, painful, or bleed.
- Your symptoms do not get better, or they get worse.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
- Medicines may help increase your saliva production. You may also need saliva substitutes to help keep your mouth moist.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Manage your symptoms:
- Drink liquids as directed. You may need to drink more water than usual. It may help to sip small amounts throughout the day. This will help keep your mouth moist. Do not drink caffeine or alcohol. Do not drink acidic juices such as tomato, orange, or grapefruit.
- Eat soft, moist foods. Choose foods that are cool or room temperature. Moisten dry foods with milk, broth, or other sauces. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish.
- Brush at least twice each day. This will help prevent tooth decay and cavities. You may need to brush after each meal as well. Use a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Floss gently once each day. Use over-the-counter mouthrinses that help increase saliva. Do not use mouthrinses that have alcohol.
- Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugar-free candy. This will help increase saliva production.
- Use a cool mist humidifier. A humidifier will increase air moisture in your home. This may help moisten your mouth, especially at night.
- Rinse your mouth 4 times each day. Rinse after each meal. Use a mixture of salt and baking soda. Mix ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of baking soda in 1 cup of warm water.
- Do not smoke. Tobacco products can dry out your mouth. Do not use e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco in place of cigarettes or to help you quit. They still contain nicotine. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.