Xerostomia is the technical term for dry mouth, which happens to all of us on occasion and to some people on a chronic basis. Dry mouth can be rather unpleasant. Your glands produce less saliva than you need, which makes your mouth uncomfortable. It can also lead to bad breath and even set the stage for gum disease and tooth decay because your saliva is not washing the bacteria away.
There are many reasons dry mouth occurs. Stress, nutritional deficiencies, and medications are the most common. Systemic diseases and medical treatments can cause it as well. Whatever the cause of your dry mouth, your dentist can either diagnose the underlying cause or refer you to the specialist that can. But most cases of dry mouth are not so serious and can be managed through lifestyle changes.
Steps You Can Take to Avoid Xerostomia Include:
- Stay Hydrated – The leading cause of dry mouth is that people do not drink enough water, and when they do drink, they opt for soft drinks that exacerbate the problem. Limit your intake of carbonated beverages and soft drinks high in sugars and acids. Drink water instead. There is no hard rule you have to adhere to, but it is a good idea to have water on hand at all times and to perhaps consider using a hydration reminder app.
- Limit Caffeine Intake – Caffeine can lead to xerostomia, and if you already have a dry mouth, it can really exacerbate the situation. If you drink coffee throughout the day or take caffeine-based energy boosters, that may in itself explain your dry mouth problem. You do not have to give up your morning coffee, but just be cognizant of how much caffeine you are consuming and aim to curb that amount.
- Add a Humidifier to Your Space – Dry air can promote dry mouth in people who are prone to it, and this can be particularly problematic in winter when the air is naturally drier and you are running the heater a lot. You may also want to use a humidifier when using antihistamines, decongestants, and other products that may be drying out your nasal passages. In most cases, a small unit that is portable and relatively inexpensive will do the trick. Just bring it with you into whatever room you are currently occupying and perhaps run it in your bedroom overnight.
- Change Up Your Oral Hygiene Products – There are fluoride toothpastes and therapeutic mouthwashes available that are formulated to reduce dry mouth. These products often contain xylitol, which can also be found in gum and drops. Avoid harsh rinses, such as alcohol-based mouthwashes, which can actually cause dry mouth. You may also want to discuss an artificial saliva product with your dentist. These are available as rinses, gels, and sprays.
- Opt for Treats Low in Sugars and Acids – This is good advice for your overall oral health since sugars and acids lead to plaque. They can also lead to dry mouth. When you want a treat, gravitate toward sugar-free gums and hard candies, and similar options. You can even find these products with xylitol to help promote saliva flow.
- Avoid Tobacco Use – It goes without saying that smoking cigarettes and cigars as well as chewing and dipping tobacco is bad for you. Regular use puts you at serious risk of disease. But even occasional use can cause and exacerbate dry mouth because these products contain toxins that inhibit saliva production. In addition, cigarettes contain ingredients that can lead to thrush and gingivitis.
- Breathe Through Your Nose – Chronic mouth breathing can cause xerostomia, halitosis, and even gum disease. It can also disrupt your sense of taste and make you more prone to mouth and throat infections. Air inhaled through the nose is higher in moisture, which helps to avoid lung dryness and thus mouth dryness. Practice proper breathing techniques, and while it may seem tough at first, it will become second nature in time.
- Limit Your Alcohol Consumption – Alcoholic drinks can dry out your mouth just as alcohol-based mouth rinses do. If you are prone to dry mouth, avoid casual drinks, and opt for virgin alternatives instead. When you do choose to drink in social settings, be aware of how it can dry your mouth, and also encourage more frequent urination, which leads to dehydration. Counteract this by taking water breaks in between your alcoholic drinks.
- Snack on Crunchy Vegetables – Crunchy vegetables are an excellent snack option all around. They fill you up and provide meaningful calories. They exercise your teeth, gums, and jaw in a positive way. Crunchy vegetables also clean your teeth and gums and promote saliva production, which also cleans your teeth and gums along with helping you avoid dry mouth. If you prefer your vegetables cooked, steam them just long enough to maintain the crunch.
Take Control of Your Dry Mouth
These nine home remedies are a great place to start and will help most people overcome the occasional dry mouth. If your xerostomia is more than occasional, however, it is imperative that you discuss it with your dentist. Jeffrey D. Clark, DDS, is a leading dentist in the Scottsdale area, and he can diagnose your dry mouth and treat it or, in more extreme cases, refer you to the specialist who can. Schedule your appointment at Scottsdale Dental Excellence by calling us at 480 585 1853.