Dry Mouth Treatment: Artificial Saliva And Other Remedies

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Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a condition wherein the salivary glands do not produce adequate quantity of saliva to keep the mouth moist, what makes it feel uncomfortable and dry.

Dry mouth is not uncommon and can be experienced by everyone occasionally. It actually affects around 10% or more of the general population and is more common among women than men. It also affects about 20% to 25% of the elderly people, putting those who are taking maintenance medicines at a higher risk.

dry mouth

Dry mouth is a common oral condition which at the least could only cause nuisance and uncomfortable sensation. However, persistent or chronic dry mouth can lead to dental health problems (e.g. tooth decay, bad breath), cause difficulty when speaking and eating (chew, swallow and taste food) or it could be a symptom of underlying serious disease(s).

Causes of dry mouth:

  • Dehydration. One possible cause of dry mouth is dehydration. This involves different conditions like diarrhea, excessive sweating, fever, vomiting and blood loss, which lead to excessive loss of body fluids.
  • Medications.Dry mouth is commonly caused by various prescribed and non-prescribed medications such as: diuretics, antihistamines, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, drugs for high blood pressure, analgesics, sedatives, decongestants and muscle relaxants. Illegal drugs such as cocaine can also cause xerostomia.
  • Cancer treatments. Chemotherapy or radiation treatments done to the head and/or neck could damage the salivary glands and therefore affect saliva production in the mouth.
  • Nerve damage. Injury or trauma of the neck or head can damage the nerves there which manage the salivary glands.
  • Diseases. Diseases such as Sjogren’s syndrome, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease affect the salivary glands and could therefore lead to dry mouth. Other diseases which cause xerostomia include: HIV, Hepatitis C, sarcoidosis, hyperparathyroidism, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, anemia, stroke, mumps, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension and cystic fibrosis.
  • Psychogenic causes. Anxiety, stress or depression.
  • Other causes. Poor oral hygiene and fungal infection of the mouth (e.g. candidiasis, thrush) can also cause dry mouth.

Common Symptoms:

  • Thirst
  • Bad breath
  • Dry or cracked lips; mouth sores; splits or sores at the edges of the mouth
  • Oral dysesthesia or tingling or burning sensation in the mouth, particularly affecting the tongue
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Difficulty in chewing, swallowing and tasting food and drinks
  • Dry sensations in the mouth and throat
  • Sore throat; sensation of hoarseness
  • Feelings of itchiness and grittiness in the mouth
  • Dry laryngeal or nasal passages
  • Dental caries
  • Thrush or oral candidiasis
  • Thickened or ropy saliva
  • Altered sense of taste and smell
  • Infection of the salivary glands, especially the parotid gland
  • Others: dry eyes, blurred vision, changes in voice

Treatment for Dry Mouth: Artificial Saliva

The saliva (or simply spit) is the clear fluid secreted by the salivary glands (parotid, mucous, sublingual and submaxillary glands) of the mouth. It is composed of 99.5% water while the remaining .05% is comprised of mucus, enzymes, electrolytes and antibacterial compounds. The saliva possesses important functions such as:
  • Antimicrobial activity – helps prevent mouth infection by controlling fungi and bacteria found in the mouth.
  • Prevents tooth decay through its cleansing action and by removing food debris from the oral cavity.
  • Provides lubrication of the oral cavity.
  • Controls mouth pH.
  • Helps chew and swallow food.
  • Provides enzymes which help digest food.

What Is Artificial Saliva?

Artificial saliva is a commercial product created to perform the functions of natural saliva, in case the salivary glands do not produce its sufficient amount to keep the mouth moist. To help alleviate this oral condition and manage its signs and symptoms, artificial saliva can be used to substitute the natural one.

Difference between the natural and artificial saliva can be found in their composition and properties. While natural saliva is composed mainly of water and contains various enzymes, minerals, electrolytes and antibacterial substances, the artificial saliva does not include complicated biological components, which cannot be preserved for long time or produced artificially. The artificial saliva usually contains water and a mixture of cellulose derivatives with various buffering agents. But on the other hand, it contains flavoring agents like sorbitol, spearmint or peppermint flavor for added taste or freshening effects which can’t be found in real saliva. Composition of natural saliva is more complex and thus more difficult to imitate, therefore antibacterial compounds and digestive bacterias as well as many useful minerals and proteins found in natural saliva can’t be found in artificial one.

How to use it?

Artificial saliva is used when necessary to ease the dry mouth symptoms and can be applied as often as patient wants. It does not cure the condition and has limited duration, therefore providing only temporary relief. Its usage depends on form: you need to spray it in the mouth in case of spray form, rinse and spit out in case of mouthwash or place on tongue and spread over in case of gel. Anyway, you have to consult your physician before use or check the product label for directions and follow them.

Who should not use it?

Do not use artificial saliva if you are allergic to any of its ingredients. Pregnant women, breastfeeding moms and those who are planning to get pregnant should talk to their doctor first before using artificial saliva. Those who are taking prescribed or non-prescribed drugs, dietary or herbal supplements should also consult their doctor or pharmacist first especially for possible drug interactions.

Side Effects

There weren’t any common side effects reported yet when artificial saliva was used in small doses. Meanwhile, seek medical help right away if any of the allergic reactions occur such as itching, rashes, hives, tightness in the chest, difficulty in breathing, swelling/sores of the face, mouth, tongue or lips.

Available Forms


  • Ease of administration especially to patients who cannot swallow.
  • More convenient and handy to carry and use as needed.
  • Can be used conveniently when traveling and even without ready availability of water.
  • Faster absorption and therefore faster onset of action.
  • Aerosols do not contain fillers or binders compared to pills/tablets.
  • Potential to help heal mouth ulcers.
  • Instead of drinking water before going to sleep (which makes one urinate frequently), using oral spray may reduce the need to go to the bathroom during sleep.
  • Effects are temporary.
  • Need to avoid ingesting food or drinks 10-15 minutes after use.
  • More expensive than other available dry mouth treatment.

  • Ease of administration especially to bedridden patients.
  • Convenient to use as needed, with no need of water.
  • Potential faster absorption and action as it is directly applied to the mouth.
  • Provides better lubrication and has potential in treating other oral problems.
  • Use of oral gel reduces the need to go to the bathroom during sleep because it can act as a substitute to drinking water before going to sleep.
  • Effects are temporary (hours).
  • Gel may cause changes in taste.
  • Need to avoid ingesting food and drinks after administration.

  • Ease of administration.
  • Mouthwash comes with added ingredients which can be beneficial in alleviating other oral problems (i.e. bad breath).
  • Potential faster absorption and onset of action.
  • May cause changes in taste.
  • Not as handy as the spray and gel. There’s a need for water in preparing mouthwash solution or to be used in mouth rinsing after use of product.

Recommended Products

Biotene Dry Mouth Oral Rinse

This oral rinse provides soothing relief while gently cleaning the mouth. Alcohol-free and mild, Biotene Oral Rinse provides gentle cleansing effects as it further alleviates symptoms of dry mouth without any tingling or burning sensation. This refreshing oral rinse moisturizes the mouth and it also provides protection against bad breath, tooth decay, plaque and other unwanted odors.

Biotene Oral Balance Gel

This oral gel provides a moisturizing action to help relieve and soothe symptoms of dry mouth. Apart from providing relief against dry mouth discomfort, Biotene Oral Balance Gel contains bioactive enzymes which help control the growth of bacteria that cause bad breath. It further provides protection against oral problems and helps cleanse the mouth gently. It can also be used to hold denture in place.

Biotene Moisturizing Mouth Spray

For instant relief of dry mouth, Biotene Moisturizing Mouth Spray provides gentle effects without the burning sensation. Its moisturizing effect is refreshing and long-lasting. It is also alcohol-free and sugar free! It’s the best and most convenient on-the-go dry mouth relieving product available in the market today.

Oasis Mouth Moisturizing Spray

Provides fast action relief to dry mouth as it soothes and moisturizes. Its moisturizing effect can last up to two hours and it contains mild minty flavor for added protection against odor-causing bacteria. With its sugar free and alcohol-free formula, Oasis Mouth Moisturizing Spray is pH balanced and non-drying too.

Xlear Spry Rain Oral Mist 

Longer-lasting and refreshingly cool in the mouth, Xlear Spry Rain Oral Mist also provides relief against dry mouth symptoms. It contains natural sweetener and breath freshener Xylitol. It also contains properties that help fight plaque and tooth decay. It comes with a pump spray bottle and a carrying size bottle for a more convenient and safe usage throughout the day!

Alternative Remedies

Special Toothpaste

There are special toothpastes which are formulated to cater specifically to various oral problems. Consequently, special toothpastes are created to provide relief to those who suffer from dry mouth. Such toothpastes usually contain unique liquid/gel formulation which helps provide relief to dry mouth symptoms as well as give further protection against oral irritation and dryness. It also contains more fluoride to help prevent tooth decay.


Lozenges are small, medicated tablets which are to be dissolved slowly in the mouth to lubricate and moisturize dry mouth. Lozenges often look like candies and is ingested like one. Lozenges for dry mouth are formulated to ease dryness, moisturize mouth tissues, prevent odor-causing bacteria and freshens breath.

Chewing Gums

There are also specially formulated gums for dry mouth. Chewing gums for this condition is made sugar-free to decrease risks of dental caries. Moreover, chewing gums can help stimulate salivary flow which would lead to more saliva production.


Dry mouth can be further alleviated by a proper physical environment – one which has moisture and is not too dry. Therefore, it is best to use a room humidifier especially at night to add moisture to the air.

Non-drug Treatments

Various non-drug treatments like lasers, acupuncture and even mild electrostimulation are believed to help improve and relieve dry mouth symptoms.

There are a lot of treatments available in the market today. However, such treatments will be most effective only through lifestyle changes! Therefore, it is important to consult with your dentist regularly, drink fluids frequently, avoid caffeine as well as sugary drinks and foods, and finally, follow proper oral hygiene.


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