Insights & Actions for Healthy Living

My mother complains about a dry mouth all the time. What can I do to help her?

Thank you for being a caregiver for your mother and wanting to do all you can to make her comfortable.

There are several reasons why she can be experiencing a dry mouth for you to check out. It is very common for older adults to experience dry mouth but should not be considered a normal aging consequence.

Medications and the combinations of several medications can lead to a dry mouth and is often the cause of dry mouth in older adults. You will want to have her doctor or pharmacist check her medication list to see if one can be triggering this feeling. Perhaps a dose adjustment, time change or a medication change would be beneficial.

Does she wear dentures? If so, be sure they are being cleaned properly using the correct products. Dentures need to be treated a little bit differently than our real teeth. When this isn’t being done adequately, it could lead to gum pain or sores which are painful. It is important to get regular dental checkups with our without dentures even as we age.

Is she drinking adequate amounts of fluid each day? Often adults don’t always drink enough because they may not sense thirst or don’t have the energy to get water throughout the day to rehydrate. If she is spending time in the heat, she may need more fluids to stay well hydrated. Staying well hydrated is important to relieve dry mouth.

There are some foods that can also give a sensation of a dry mouth including caffeine containing fluids, spicy foods, sticky foods and salty foods. If this is the case, it is best to brush after consuming these type of foods.

If she is not producing enough saliva naturally to moisten her mouth, she may find chewing sugarless gum or using sugarless hard candy are soothing because they can stimulate saliva.

Dry mouth can also be a side effect of specific disease processes. It would be a good idea to discuss your concerns with your mother’s physician to be sure all avenues have been explored.

I wish you luck!

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