Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a common complication of facial palsy that can significantly impact an individual’s daily life. This is because when the facial nerve, which is responsible for stimulating two of the three pairs of salivary glands in the mouth, is damaged, less saliva is produced.
Affected areas of life
- Preparing food: Saliva helps us chew and prepare food ready for swallowing. Without enough saliva, this process can become complex and uncomfortable.
- Protecting teeth: Saliva helps protect teeth and gums from plaque and tooth decay. Individuals are at a higher risk of tooth decay and gum disease without enough saliva.
- Speaking: Saliva keeps the mouth moist when you are speaking so the lips and tongue can move smoothly over our teeth. Without enough saliva, speaking can become complicated and uncomfortable.
How to alleviate the symptoms?
Several products can help alleviate dry mouth symptoms, including:
- Special toothpaste: These can help to protect teeth and gums from plaque and tooth decay.
- Chewing gum: Chewing gum can help to stimulate saliva production.
- Mouth gels and sprays: These can act as a replacement for saliva and help to keep the mouth moist.
- Mouthwashes: These can help to keep the mouth clean and prevent plaque and tooth decay. It’s essential to choose mouthwashes that do not contain alcohol, menthol, or foaming agents, which can cause dryness.
You can ask your GP or dentists to prescribe these products for you. Alternatively, you can purchase these online or at local pharmacies. The purchase prices for some products are lower than the price of a prescription.
Good oral hygiene is essential!
In addition to using products to alleviate dry mouth symptoms, it’s crucial to maintain good oral hygiene. This includes:
- Regular tooth brushing after meals
- Six-monthly dental checks
Other tips for managing dry mouth include:
- Drinking plenty of water and avoiding drinks containing sugar
- Reducing or eliminating alcohol and caffeine intake
- Stopping smoking altogether, or at least limiting the amount that you do smoke
- Checking with your doctor whether any medication you take causes dry mouth.
In summary, dry mouth is a common problem for individuals with facial palsy as it’s caused by damage to the facial nerve, which stimulates the salivary glands in the mouth. Various products and lifestyle changes can help alleviate dry mouth symptoms and improve quality of life.
If you are interested in consulting with a healthcare provider or physical therapist specialized in facial paralysis, you can visit the web page “Consultation” to schedule an appointment.