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Can You Overcome Dry Mouth with Sugar-Free Sweetener?

Certain products containing xylitol may help you overcome dry mouth. Treating allergies to get rid of nighttime congestion could also help.

A dry mouth creates its own special kind of misery. You may feel as though you’ve been walking through the desert. For some reason, your mouth is stuffed full of the kind of cotton logs the dentist uses. A sip of water helps, but only for a short time. What can you do to overcome dry mouth? As it turns out, some of the most popular products contain a sugar-free sweetener, xylitol.

Looking for Ways to Overcome Dry Mouth:

Q. Allergies have my nose stopped up, especially at night. That forces me to breathe through my mouth.

I wake up with a terribly dry mouth. Is there anything I can use to overcome this unpleasant situation till allergy season is over?

Products with Xylitol May Help:

A. There are a couple of over-the-counter products designed to ease symptoms of dry mouth (xerostomia). XyliMelts contain xylitol, a naturally occurring non-sugar sweetener found in birch bark. The instructions suggest putting one disk on each side of the mouth at night to overcome dry mouth.

Another product is Biotene. It too contains xylitol along with glycerine, water and sorbitol. This saliva replacement gel is used to moisturize a mouth dried out because of cancer treatment or medication.

A Caution on Xylitol:

Please keep any xylitol-containing products well out of the reach of your dogs. Xylitol is quite toxic to dogs. That includes chewing gum as well as these dry-mouth products.

Easing Allergy Symptoms:

It might also make sense to take something for your allergies. Don’t take a classic antihistamine such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl, etc.).  Such medicines may dry out your nose, but they can also make your mouth dry.

Other medications are more promising. Consider cromolyn (NasalCrom), for example. If you use it four times a day, your nose will behave itself at night and you won’t have to breathe through your mouth.

You could also try a saline nasal spray at bedtime. Some people find it quite helpful. Again, you wouldn’t need to breathe through your mouth all night. Other approaches to controlling nasal congestion during allergy season (such as a HEPA filter or stinging nettle) may also help you overcome dry mouth.


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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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