As they go through menopause, many women find that they suffer from a dry mouth. This can be an extremely uncomfortable symptom, which causes problems with constant thirst, difficulty chewing, swallowing and talking, and can also have an embarrassing impact on oral health.
In this blog we take a look at what causes menopause dry mouth, and what you can do to help cope with the symptoms.
What causes menopause dry mouth?
Menopause is one of the main causes of dry mouth, which is also known as xerostomia.
Menopause dry mouth can cause a sore, dry feeling in the mouth, throat and lips, as well as frequent thirst, and problems with hoarseness. It can also sometimes cause a burning sensation in the mouth and tongue (known as burning mouth syndrome).
As a woman approaches menopause, levels of the hormone oestrogen start to decline. This hormone is responsible for helping to regulate levels of fluid in the body. Falling levels of oestrogen can cause the mucus membranes in the mouth and nose to become thinner and drier, and can affect the amount and quality of saliva being produced.
As well as keeping your mouth moist and helping you to chew and swallow, saliva also helps to control bacteria, protecting your teeth against decay and infections.
Changes in the saliva can give you a bitter taste in the mouth, cause problems with everyday activities like chewing, tasting, swallowing, and talking. It can also cause potentially embarrassing problems with oral hygeine such as bad breath or dental problems.
How to cope with dry mouth during menopause
There are lots of things that can help with the symptoms of menopause dry mouth:
Chew sugar-free gum or suck hard boiled sweets
This can help to stimulate the production of saliva. Chewing ginger can also help to increase salivary production. Many people also find that sucking on ice cubes or ice lollies can help to soothe and rehydrate the mouth.
Watch what you’re eating
Try opting for plain foods and juicy (non-citrus) fruits, and avoid eating very hot, spicy, salty or crunchy foods, as these can dehydrate and irritate your mouth. Sugary and acidic foods can also increase the risk of tooth decay, so try to limit your intake.
It’s important to make sure you keep your fluid levels up, so drink plenty of water or sugar-free drinks. It can help to keep a water bottle nearby and take regular sips whenever you feel thirsty.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine
You should avoid alcohol and limit your caffeine intake, as these can irritate and dehydrate your mouth. You should also avoid smoking.
Look after your teeth and gums
It’s important to protect your oral health when you have menopause dry mouth. Brushing your teeth regularly and using a gentle mouthwash and toothpaste that are designed for dry mouths can help to soothe and rehydrate your mouth, as well as protecting against tooth decay and reducing embarrassing menopause dry mouth problems, such as bad breath. Avoid products containing alcohol, as they can irritate your mouth and make it feel even drier.
Try a saliva substitute
You can buy these over the counter, in the forms of gels, sprays or lozenges. The Live Better With community recommend EvoMucy Moisturising Mouth Spray, which gently moisturises a dry mouth and gums.
Use a humidifier
This can help to keep the air moist and reduce the symptoms of menopause dry mouth. The Live Better With community recommend the ProBreeze Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifer, which can help to reduce dryness and irritation.
Apply a soothing lip balm
If menopause dry mouth has made your lips dry, sore, chapped or flaky, applying a lip balm regularly will help keep your lips smooth and moisturised. The Live Better With unscented lip balm contains gentle, soothing natural ingredients, and comes in a handy tin.
Take a supplement
A nutritional supplement may help with the symptoms of menopause. Sea buckthorn oil contains Omega-7 oils, which can help to support healthy mucous membranes. You should always talk to your doctor before taking any kind of supplement. You can view the Live Better With Guide to Menopause Supplements here.
Do you have problems with menopause dry mouth? Have any useful tips or advice? Why not share them on the Live Better With community forum.