How to Deal with A Dry Mouth: 7 Helpful Ideas
As your trusted dentist in Parramatta, we help patients deal with a wide range of oral health conditions. When people consider visiting the dentist, they mostly think about issues such as cavities, gum disease, crooked teeth or other types of pain. However, one of the other issues that can seriously affect your oral health is a dry mouth.
Let’s take a look at what a dry mouth is, whether you should be concerned and, most importantly, some tips to deal with the problem.
A dry mouth can be caused by a wide variety of things. Typically, dietary factors can result in a dry mouth, however, for many people, this may only be temporary. Some people do suffer more chronically from a dry mouth, and this is when the condition warrants further investigation.
Some of the main causes include:
· Medications, including antidepressants, birth control pills and heartburn medication
· Diseases and medical conditions, including diabetes and certain auto-immune conditions
· Oral health problems including gum disease or tooth decay that require surgery or root canal therapy to fix them
· Dietary factors such as consumption of alcohol or caffeine
· Smoking or vaping
· Not drinking enough water
Understanding the cause of your dry mouth symptoms is crucial to solving the problem, which is why you may need to visit a GP or a dental health professional, depending on your concerns.
Due to the many factors that cause a dry mouth, it is not always a sign of something more serious. However, dry mouth can be a symptom of underlying conditions. Diabetes is one of these conditions, as is Sjogren’s syndrome which is an autoimmune disorder that causes dry eyes and mouth.
If a dry mouth isn’t associated with another medical condition, it can still be cause for concern. Saliva plays a crucial role in maintaining dental health, and a dry mouth is essentially caused by decreased saliva production. In action, it neutralises acids from the food and drinks you consume, helping to prevent tooth decay. Therefore, if you don’t produce enough saliva, it can lead to dental health conditions that require treatment.
If you’re hoping to relieve the symptoms of a dry mouth, here are some tips to try.
Drinking plenty of water is the best method to keep your mouth moist. On average, we should drink at least eight glasses of water a day, but if you have a dry mouth, that number may have to increase.
Drink before you feel thirsty and throughout the day instead of only at meals or in the morning. Your body loses water through breathing and sweating all day, so it’s important to replace this lost fluid with plenty of water.
Caffeine can cause a dry mouth and make you feel like you have no saliva at all. If you’re going to drink coffee or tea during the day, aim to do it in the morning when your mouth isn’t as dry yet. This is particularly important advice if you consume caffeine in the form of soft drinks or energy drinks. These are also packed with sugar and can cause untold damage to your teeth. So, if you combine an increased presence of sugar and acids in your mouth with the fact that your mouth isn’t producing enough saliva to neutralise them, it’s a recipe for disaster.
One of the simplest ways to deal with a dry mouth is to avoid alcohol. Alcohol can cause you to lose saliva, which leads to dehydration and cavities in your teeth. The combination of dehydration and acidic beverages can also lead to bad breath that might last for several hours after consumption. So, you can avoid bad breath and a range of other health problems that alcohol can cause while also easing your dry mouth symptoms.
Oral sprays are available over the counter and can help to keep your mouth moist. They contain a mixture of water and glycerin, which sits on the surface of your tongue and gums to provide moisture for up to two hours. It’s also advised that you drink plenty of water before using an oral spray, as this can clear residue from the inside of your mouth and make the oral spray more effective.
The chewing action of gum helps stimulate saliva production and keeps your mouth moist. In fact, while sugarless gum is a great option, having anything in your mouth tends to produce saliva. So, if chewing gum isn’t your thing, you could try lozenges or even sugarless candy. The sugarless component of these products is important because you should avoid adding any more sugar if your mouth is already dry.
If you’re a smoker, it’s likely that this contributes to your dry mouth. Smoking and vaping can affect salivary glands, which are responsible for producing saliva. As we’ve learned, saliva is crucial to oral health, so you’re doing yourself no favours by smoking. Quitting is extremely difficult for most people, but if you’re ready to make a change, your GP can suggest a range of methods to make the process easier.
Even if you think your dry mouth may be related to diet or another factor, it’s always a good idea to consult with your dentist. If you’ve tried all of the other tips on this list without results, it is definitely time for a visit. Your local dentist in Parramatta can investigate and diagnose conditions that may be contributing to a dry mouth. Most importantly, they can fix the problem and may even be able to suggest specific medications to help.
Our team of qualified dental health practitioners is here for you. If you experience a dry mouth or you have any other concerns related to dental hygiene and health, we’d love to help. For the best dental Parramatta has to offer, contact us today to book an appointment.