Any problem with your mouth can affect eating and drinking as well as your ability to talk comfortably. Your mouth can become dry and sore due to medications, radiotherapy, oxygen therapy and some infections.
Some people with advanced illness have a dry mouth, because they produce less saliva, or they breathe more through their mouth due to breathlessness. Oxygen treatment can also cause a dry mouth. Radiotherapy to the head and neck and certain drugs can be another cause. Speak to your doctor if it’s likely that a drug is causing your dry mouth, as a replacement drug may be available. Feeling anxious can also make your mouth feel dry. A dry mouth can be uncomfortable and change the way your food tastes.
If you have a dry mouth for a long time you have a higher risk of tooth decay, so it’s important to take care of your teeth. Your dentist will be able to help you with this and will want you to have regular check-ups. Some dentists will visit you at home if you can’t attend the surgery.
If you have mouth ulcers, your doctor may prescribe an antiseptic and painkilling mouthwash for you to use. You may also be prescribed a protective gel that can help ease any pain and discomfort. If you’re taking antibiotics or steroids, you may develop a fungal infection in your mouth called thrush. This coats your tongue and can make eating unpleasant. Your doctor can prescribe an anti-fungal medicine to clear this. Always contact your doctor if mouth pain is making it difficult to eat or talk. They can prescribe painkillers if necessary.
Drooling (or dribbling) is the unintentional loss of saliva from the mouth. Drooling may occur in some medical conditions such as when there is inflammation of the lining of the mouth or as a reaction to some medications. In some neurological conditions including Motor Neurone Disease, Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis, drooling is relatively common
There can be health and hygiene problems for people who drool most of the time and excessively. The skin around the mouth, chin and neck can become red and sore, and dehydration may occur because of fluid loss. There may also be problems with eating, infections may be more easily transmitted, and choking is more likely, as are chest infections.
A variety of techniques have been used to treat drooling. Treatments may include: