How to tell if you have dry mouth and what to do about it!
Saliva is our body’s best defenses against the formation of caries. Dry mouth is a problem for 1 in 4 Americans! Do you know how to tell if you or your patient is suffering from dry mouth? Here are some key questions and strategies you can use to find out.
If you answer “yes” or “occasionally” to one or more of the symptoms listed below, a healthy dry mouth relief therapy should be investigated:
- My mouth feels dry.
- I notice a lack of saliva in my mouth.
- I get up at night to drink.
- My mouth feels dry when eating a meal.
- I have difficulties swallowing certain foods.
- I sip liquids to aid in swallowing foods.
- I suck on sweets or cough drops to relieve dry mouth.
- My throat feels dry.
- My mouth becomes dry when speaking.
- I regularly use ______ to keep my mouth moist.
Some of the causes of dry mouth are stress, poor diet, age, heredity, disease, and commonly used medications that cause dry mouth as a side effect.
Another method of identifying dry mouth if you are a dental professional is the resting or stimulated saliva flow test.
For the resting saliva test, the dental practitioner may ask a patient to spit into a measuring cup without any oral stimulation for one minute and then assess the amount of saliva.
- Less than 0.1ml/min = very low
- 0.1–0.25ml/min = low
- 0.25–0.35ml/min = normal
For the stimulated saliva test, the dental practitioner may ask a patient to spit into a measuring cup while chewing on a piece of sterile wax for five minutes.
- Less than 0.7ml/min = very low
- 0.7–1.0ml/min = low
- 1–3ml/min = normal
Normal resting saliva flow averages about 0.3 ml/min, so if a practitioner retracts the lower lip he or she can observe saliva droplets forming on the mucosa of the lip from the minor salivary glands. Within a minute, there should be numerous droplets of saliva.
Another quick indication for saliva flow is to just look at the floor of the mouth. The body produces about 1 liter of saliva every day, and a healthy patient will have saliva pooling at the floor of the mouth.
If you are concerned about your dry mouth, you should make an appointment to see your dentist. They can recommend oral health products that can help stimulate saliva flow (like this gum) or moisten the mouth (like this spray) and help protect your teeth from the harmful effects of dry mouth.