Dry mouth occurs when your salivary glands don't produce as much saliva as you'd normally need, leaving you with an uncomfortably dry mouth. Aside from the discomfort, the condition also puts you at risk for dental conditions like tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease.
Dry mouth can develop for many reasons: medications, nutritional deficiencies, stress, cancer treatment, and even some systemic diseases. Your dentist can help you pinpoint the cause of your dry mouth, but in-between visits, there are some remedies you can add to your routine to help ease your symptoms. Here are 10 safe dry mouth home remedies you should consider.
Dry mouth can occur as a result of dehydration, which is usually quite simple: you're not drinking enough fluids. The Mayo Clinic advises men to drink 3 liters and women to drink 2.2 liters throughout the day, even if they're not being particularly active. Although dehydration isn't always the reason behind dry mouth, keep in mind sipping water can still help to cleanse your teeth and tongue of harmful bacteria until your saliva flow returns to normal.
2. Sugar-Free Sucking Candies
Sucking on sugar-free candies or mints can stimulate your salivary flow as well, temporarily relieving your symptoms. It's important to specifically choose sugar-free products because sugar contributes to the development of tooth decay – which compounds the issue dry mouth creates on its own.
3. Sugar-Free Gum
Not a fan of candies or mints? Chew sugar-free gum instead. As explained by the American Dental Association (ADA), the act of chewing stimulates the flow of saliva. This increase will temporarily ease your dry mouth symptoms. Just be sure to look for sugar-free gums that have earned the ADA Seal of Acceptance, which promises the gum holds true to its label.
4. Decaffeinated Beverages
Caffeine actually has a drying effect inside your mouth, so it can exacerbate your dry mouth symptoms. This doesn't mean you can't drink beverages like coffee, tea, or soda anymore; you just need to choose the decaffeinated versions. To stay awake, don't skip a full breakfast; Prevention suggests almonds, oats and blueberries are all great fatigue-fighters.
5. Breathe through Your Nose
Naturally, mouth-breathing can dry out your mouth too. So to avoid making your oral condition worse, breathe through your nose when in a resting state. If you're unable to breathe this way due to allergies or congestion, it may be time to see your doctor to get these issues resolved to help alleviate your dry mouth, too.
6. Use a Humidifier
Breathing in dry air can contribute to dry mouth over time, so use a humidifier to add moisture to the room. Breathing in this treated air can help cut down on your symptoms significantly when you're asleep. Place a humidifier in rooms that you spend a lot of time in, like your bedroom or work space.
7. Quit Smoking
Smoking can cause or exacerbate dry mouth. This is because one of cigarettes' negative effects is literally slowing down your body's production of saliva. If you're having trouble quitting smoking – and many do – ask your dentist or dental hygienist for advice on where to start.
8. Alcohol-Free Mouthwash
Most mouthwashes contain alcohol, which is responsible for the slightly abrasive sensation you feel in your mouth while using these products. But it can also have the same effect on your mouth's moisture levels. To avoid making your dry mouth symptoms worse, use an alcohol-free mouthwash so you can fight germs without creating the environment they thrive in.
9. Fluoride Toothpaste
Because dry mouth puts you at risk for developing tooth decay, it's important to brush your teeth with a toothpaste, such as Colgate Total® Clean Mint where its fluoride formula strengthens teeth to help prevent cavities. Fluoride is a mineral that can help you avoid cavities, as observed by the National Institute of Health (NIH), while keeping your enamel strong by replacing minerals you've lost. It also makes it harder for the bacteria inside your mouth to produce acids that hurt your enamel.
10. Remember to Floss Daily
Daily flossing is beneficial for everyone, but it's especially important when you have dry mouth. This condition puts you at risk of periodontal disease, which means you need to carefully clean between your teeth and around your gumline every day to make up for the saliva that usually assists in this process.
Dry mouth is an uncomfortable condition with many causes, but with the help of your dentist, you can learn how to manage it. If you're still not sure why you have dry mouth, see your dentist for a diagnosis before taking these dry mouth home remedies into your own hands.