Oral Health Buzz
What Causes Dry Mouth and How Do You Alleviate It?
Dry mouth is an uncomfortable feeling that makes a drink of water feel like heaven. But what causes dry mouth? Well, it varies from person to person. Getting to the root of your dry mouth can help you treat it. Most of the time, dry mouth can be handled with home remedies, but if the condition persists or gets worse, talk to your dentist for evaluation and recommendation of further treatment options.
Breathing Through Your Mouth
If you breathe through your mouth most of the time, the air that moves over your tongue and teeth will dry your mouth and saliva. Dry mouth due to mouth breathing is more likely to happen at night when a gaping jaw sometimes goes unnoticed. If you regularly suffer from a stuffy nose or sinus problems that cause you to breathe through your mouth, talk to your physician about treatments to clear up your nasal congestion.
If you're not taking in enough fluids during the day, you might get dehydrated, which means your bodily fluid levels are low. This can result in a dry mouth. The fix for this is easy: Be sure you're getting enough water during the day to prevent dehydration. Add foods with a high water content to your plate, as well, which help keep you hydrated. Watermelon and cucumbers are good choices. Avoid caffeinated drinks, because caffeine is a diuretic and may contribute to dehydration and exacerbate dry mouth symptoms.
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the unfortunate side effect of many medications is a dry mouth. Antidepressants, antihistamines, epileptic medications, anti-psychotics and beta-blockers are common offenders. Those medications reduce saliva flow, which is why they might give you a dry mouth. Short of quitting the medication, which isn't a wise choice unless directed by your doctor, you may have to adjust by taking frequent sips of water, chewing gum or using over-the-counter saliva substitutes.
If you suffer from anxiety, a flare of the condition can temporarily dry your mouth. Sjogren's Syndrome is a health condition that can affect your salivary glands and cause dry mouth, as well. If what causes dry mouth for you is a health problem, often treating that issue can help alleviate the symptoms. But consult a doctor first to diagnose the cause of your dry mouth and other possible symptoms.
Things to Avoid
Eliminating dry mouth also involves avoiding certain things that can exacerbate the problem. Don't smoke or use tobacco and skip over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants. If you need help quitting cigarettes, talk to your doctor about medications or other treatment options. Avoid using mouthwash that contains alcohol, which can be drying as well.
Alleviating Dry Mouth
Keep a stash of sugar-free gum or hard candy with you and pop one when your mouth gets dry. This helps stimulate saliva flow, and keeping your mouth moist. A humidifier in your home can also help keep the air from being so dry, helping cut down on dry mouth when you breathe it. Carry a water bottle with you so you can take a sip when your mouth gets dry.
Learn more about dry mouth in the Colgate Oral Care resources.