Dry mouth is the condition of hyposalivation which increases the risk of oral illness. Reduced Saliva production opens the gate for various dental issues such as tooth decay, halitosis, gum infections, etc.

Saliva substitute works best to give you relief from the complications of dry mouth. Also, the additional care such as limiting alcohol consumption, stoppage of smoking habit, having plenty of water, etc. gives more relief.

Saliva substitute is the oral moisturizers which mimic natural saliva. But it cannot cure the dry mouth condition completely. However, you can get temporary relief from the dryness of the mouth with the help of saliva substitutes (1).

You do not need a prescription for saliva substitutes, but it is difficult to get on the shelf of the pharmacy. So, if you are suffering from dry mouth, ask your pharmacist to get the saliva substitute for you.

But before you start using saliva substitute, here is all you need to know about it.

What is dry mouth condition?

Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is the common oral condition caused due to reduced saliva production. Dry mouth often noted as the symptom of certain diseases or the side-effect of particular medications.

Also, some of the conditions such as damage to salivary gland or duct, salivary dysfunction or salivary duct stone are responsible for dry mouth.

Saliva keeps the oral cavity moist and washes off the bacteria thereby prevent many diseases (2). But reduced saliva production leads to dry mouth condition and causes –

  • Oral mucosal irritation.
  • Tooth decay.
  • Bad breath.
  • Oral infection such as gingivitis, periodontitis, etc.
  • Difficulty in eating, chewing and speaking.
  • Ulceration in the oral cavity.

The person with dry mouth often wakes up at night feeling thirsty. You can manage the dry mouth condition by primary oral care and additional methods including saliva substitutes and saliva stimulants that help to keep your oral cavity moist.

What is saliva substitute?

Saliva substitute provides artificial saliva to your oral cavity. The artificial saliva reduces the dryness of the mouth and keeps the oral environment moist. Usually, saliva substitute can give you relief from dry mouth for approximately 2-3 hours.

The functions served by saliva substitute includes –

  • It allows the removal of accumulated food particles and debris.
  • It helps to moisturize oral tissue regularly.
  • It avoids the mucosal irritation.
  • It prevents the bad breath and also limits many dental illnesses including tooth decay, gingivitis, etc.

Natural saliva produced by the salivary gland mainly constitute of water along with many other enzymes, electrolyte, and mucus. 

However, the artificial saliva obtained from the saliva substitute is not precisely similar to the natural saliva. But it contains the combination of ingredients which provides great temporary relief in case of dry mouth.

Along with the water, the ingredients of saliva substitute that help to derive its functions are –

  • Carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) – It reduces the dryness of mouth to a great extent. Also, carboxymethyl cellulose increases the viscosity and lubricates the oral cavity.
  • Minerals – Saliva substitute constitute of minerals such as phosphate, calcium, and fluoride. Minerals are the essential component of your teeth and jaw bone. They help to protect and strengthen your teeth.
  • Glycerine – Glycerine is the lipid substance which coats the tongue, teeth, and gum to reduce moisture loss. Mechanical trauma to the oral mucosa and mucosal irritation prevented by glycerine.
  • Xylitol – Xylitol is known to increase the saliva production. Increased saliva protects teeth from bacteria and decay. (3)
  • Other ingredients – Saliva substitute also contain flavoring agents to give pleasant taste and preservatives to maintain the shelf life of the product.

You can get the saliva substitute in the following form –

  • Oral spray
  • Oral Rinse
  • Gel
  • Swab
  • Dissolving tablets

Saliva substitute in any form is effective. But do not forget that saliva substitute is not the cure for dry mouth. It just relieves the symptoms associated with dry mouth.

Saliva substitute vs. Saliva stimulants

Saliva substitute differs from saliva stimulant. Saliva substitute adds the artificial saliva to oral cavity whereas saliva stimulants stimulate the salivary gland to increase the production of saliva (4).

While chewing these products, the muscles of mastication get compress, exerting pressure on the salivary gland. Salivary gland under the tension produces and releases more saliva. You can use sugar-free gums, candies, and mints as the saliva stimulants.

Increasing the rate of production of natural saliva is preferred than adding the artificial saliva in dry mouth condition because the increased saliva production with saliva stimulants gives the natural cure to dry mouth.

How to maintain oral hygiene for dry mouth condition?

The dry mouth needs special care as the chances of bacterial growth increase due to reduced saliva. Good oral hygiene practice provide the germ-free oral cavity and helps to prevent tooth decay and oral infections.

The basic oral hygiene regimen include –

  • Brushing twice a day for an adequate time. Use fluoride containing toothpaste for additional tooth protection.
  • Floss once in a day on a regular basis.
  • Use peroxide free and alcohol-free mouthwash to avoid the dryness of mouth. Fluoride-containing mouthwash preferred for dry mouth.
  • Clean your tongue with tongue scraper on a daily basis.

Added to basic oral hygiene regimen, following routine can help you to deal with the dry mouth  –

  • Drink as much as water as you can and do not forget to keep yourself hydrated.
  • Avoid caffeine.
  • Limit alcohol use.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Limit sugar intake.
  • Avoid mouth breathing.
  • Chew sugar-free gums.
  • Stop tobacco chewing.
  • Try saliva substitutes.
  • Use humidifier.

Over to you

Dry mouth is the irritating condition which may land you in other oral health problems. Fortunately, it is possible to treat and get relief from dry mouth.

Saliva substitutes and saliva stimulants play a significant role to fill your dry mouth with the excess of saliva. In a way, It is quite easy to get relief from the dry mouth with saliva substitutes.

Also, special oral care along with avoidance of provoking factors such as smoking, mouth breathing, caffeine, etc. can help you to get over the dry mouth condition.

Saliva substitute provides artificial saliva to the oral cavity. The artificial saliva reduces the dryness of the mouth & keeps it moist.