Dry Mouth

A lack of saliva can lead to a dry mouth. Dry Mouth (Xerostomia) occurs in Progressive Supranuclear Palsy and Corticobasal Degeneration and is generally a side effect of the medications.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Bad Breath
  • Dry Mouth
  • Salty deposits or cracked lips
  • Thick, stringy mucus
  • Poor sense of taste
  • Speech difficulty
  • Swallow problems and catching
  • Sore tongue
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Increased plaque, tooth decay and gum disease.

Saliva in the mouth naturally aids speech, swallow and digestion. It helps to fight infection and so it is important to keep the mouth healthy.  Avoid alcohol and smoking which aggravates the oral cavity and can add to problems with dry mouth.

Saliva is produced in the mouth and has many beneficial functions. It:

  • aids digestion
  • removes plaque,
  • kills bacteria
  • repairs teeth
  • neutralises acid
  • washes teeth

Good Oral Hygiene

A high standard of dental care is necessary in PSP/CBD as the condition of dry mouth presents in both conditions. A dry mouth leads to increased bacterial flora and gases within the buccal cavity. Rising acid levels and poor oral hygiene increases tooth decay, tooth loss and gum disease.

To ensure a healthy mouth it is important to wash teeth twice a day using a small headed soft toothbrush.   Small interdental brushes are easier to use than flossing and do the same job.  A more expensive but effective option for flushing out the mouth is to use an electronic water flosser similar to that used at the dentist where a burst of water under pressure flushes the debris off the teeth. Use an alcohol free mouthwash.  Later on in the disease it may be difficult to access places but using sterile gloves, mouth wash can be rubbed onto the teeth using a sterile cloth.

Dentures should be removed at night to rest the palate and for sterilisation. Dentures often become loose overtime and can cause discomfort and pain. It is important to get these adjusted quickly as loose dentures makes eating and speaking increasingly difficult.  Loose dentures can be sorted using an over the counter fixative or having a liner fitted. Don’t let it get out of hand seek advice from your dentist early. (Treatment Benefit Scheme www.welfare.ie )


It is very important to drink plenty of water. This will lubricate the mouth, flush the mouth and dilute the acid. 2 .litres/day is recommended. 


Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. If you snore at night this may be because your head is tilted back allowing the mouth to open and breathing then occurs through the mouth resulting in a dry mouth when you wake up. Adding an extra pillow may help to prevent the head from tilting. Make sure you have adequate ventilation so the room doesn’t get too dry Open a window in the bedroom at night or use a vaporiser.

Lip balm will help keep lips healthy and prevent cracking and aloe vera will heal mouth sores quickly.

A dentist or a doctor can prescribe artificial saliva if necessary

Dry Mouth – what can I do?

  • Regulars drinks or sips of water
  • Reduce intake of milk products
  • Reduce Caffeine intake (Tea, Coffee,)
  • Chew gum
  • Suck sweets (choose carefully to avoid choking)

Sore mouth: Top Tips

It may be uncomfortable to eat but here is a tasty way to reduce sensitivity and discomfort.

  • Frozen yogurt
  • Ice cubes
  • Ice lolly (flavoured or otherwise)
  • Ice cream

You will also be stimulating the licking and sucking reflexes so double bonus!

Choose foods that are easy to tolerate at this time soups, stews, chicken and fish combined with soft cooked or pureed vegetables. Gravies and sauces will ease swallow and add moisture. Smooth peanut butter, cottage cheese on thinly cut bread if tolerated for a snack. Finish off with tinned, stewed or soft fruit with yoghurt or custard for dessert.