Why does facial palsy cause a dry mouth?
Two of the three pairs of salivary glands in your mouth are stimulated by the facial nerve. When this part of the nerve is damaged less saliva is produced and people may experience a dry mouth. The medical term for dry mouth due to lack of saliva is xerostomia.
Why is saliva important?
- It helps you prepare food, keeps your mouth clean, and protects teeth from plaque and tooth decay.
- It helps protect gums and prevents tooth loss.
- It keeps your mouth moist when you are speaking so the lips and tongue can move smoothly over our teeth.
- Saliva helps us chew and prepare food ready for swallowing.
- It contains enzymes important for digestion.
- Saliva even helps us taste our food.
- Consequently if you are not producing enough saliva you may experience problems with these activities.
What can help a dry mouth?
- There are many different products to help with dry mouth, for example, special toothpastes, chewing gum, mouth gels/sprays which act like saliva and mouthwashes. They do not contain alcohol, menthol or foaming agents which cause dryness. You can ask your GP or dentists to prescribe these products for you. Alternatively you can purchase these from the internet or at some local pharmacies. The purchase prices for some products are cheaper than the price of a prescription.
- Good oral hygiene is very important as people with dry mouth are at higher risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Regular tooth brushing after meals and six-monthly dental checks will be essential.
- If a dry mouth is affecting your ability to chew and prepare food, always add extra gravy, sauces or butter to help with lubrication.
- Keep a bottle/glass of water with you so that you can take frequent sips: this will help keep your mouth moist. Avoid sipping drinks containing sugar as this will contribute to tooth decay.
- Dehydration will make your dry mouth symptoms worse so make sure you drink plenty of water or drinks which do not contain caffeine or alcohol.
- Avoid or reduce the amount of alcohol and caffeine as these cause dry mouth. Try decaffeinated tea or coffee products as substitutes.
- Smoking also causes dry mouth so it is recommended to stop smoking altogether, or at least limit the amount that you do smoke.
- You may also need to check with your doctor whether any medication you take causes dry mouth.
- http://bioxtra.info/en/ – gives more in-depth information about dry mouth and Bioxtra products which can help prevent it. You can purchase these products from www.amazon.co.uk, which gives competitive prices. Alternatively you can ask your GP or dentist to prescribe these products for you.
- www.biotene.co.uk – this company also specialises in products for dry mouth. Biotene products can be purchased at some pharmacies or from the internet or again may be prescribed by your dentist or GP.
Last reviewed: 22-11-2016 || Next review due: 22-11-2018