A dry mouth can be uncomfortable at best and harmful at worst. People who experience frequent or severe dry mouth are more at risk for gum disease and tooth decay because they lack the saliva needed to balance oral bacteria and protect the teeth from harmful acids.
Saliva also contains essential minerals that can help strengthen tooth enamel. So when you experience dry mouth, also called xerostomia, it’s important to try and treat the condition to protect your dental health. Treating dry mouth can also help with bad breath, which is never a bad thing!
But how exactly can you treat dry mouth? The following are a few options.
Chew Sugarless Gum
Chewing sugarless gum may help improve both the quantity and quality of your saliva. Research shows that chewing sugar-free gum can increase saliva and even the pH of your saliva, making it less acidic. This means you can reduce the chances that acids and bacteria would harm your tooth enamel . Choose sugarless gum with xylitol for cavity-fighting benefits in addition to treating dry mouth.
Stay Hydrated Throughout the Day
Dehydration is more common than many people think. In fact, it’s a frequent cause of hospital admission, especially in older adults . Staying hydrated by sipping water throughout the day and limiting your intake of dehydrating substances, such as caffeine and alcohol, can help treat dry mouth. In general, aim to drink one ounce of water for each pound you weigh, depending on your activity level.
Talk to Your Dentist
Seeing your dentist regularly is imperative when you have dry mouth because your dentist can identify any signs of damage early. However, your dentist may also be able to prescribe or recommend a therapeutic mouthwash to help treat dry mouth. Some of these mouthwashes help mimic saliva, protect your oral cavity from dryness, and lower your risk for oral disease due to dehydration. If you choose to try an over-the-counter mouthwash for dry mouth, be sure it’s alcohol-free, as mouthwashes that contain alcohol can be even more drying to the oral cavity .
Eat Plenty of Hydrating Foods
Although drinking water is essential, you can also get fluids through the food you eat to stay hydrated. Fruits and vegetables contain a significant amount of water—for example, an apple is 86% water! So eating plenty of hydrating foods throughout the day can help you reach your fluid intake and potentially help reduce the symptoms of dry mouth.
Consider Switching Your Meds
Over a thousand medications can cause dry mouth, including antidepressants, decongestants, antihistamines, and muscle relaxants, to name a few . If you suffer from chronic dry mouth and take one or several medications that could contribute to the condition, it may be worth considering switching your medications. Ask your doctor if alternatives are available to help reduce your dry mouth symptoms.
Do You Struggle With Dry Mouth?
If you struggle with dry mouth, treating it is imperative to protect your teeth and gums and keep your smile healthy. Ask your dentist for more ways to treat dry mouth that can help you feel more comfortable so you can keep smiling!