A dry mouth can cause you a fair amount of discomfort, and often it's not clear the reason behind it. Fortunately, there are a number of oral health products, including various types of toothpaste and mouthwash for dry mouth, that you can use to treat the cause.
How Does Dry Mouth Develop?
Dry mouth occurs when you don't produce enough saliva, which contains antimicrobial properties and lubricates your mouth perpetually during the day. Saliva helps to keep oral tissues healthy and prevent infection through control of bacteria and fungi in the mouth, according to the Consumer Guide to Dentistry. It also helps to prevent tooth decay by washing away food particles and preventing acids from attacking your tooth enamel.
A number of reasons exist for the lack of saliva, such as:
- the use of medications
- smoking and drinking
Your dry mouth could also be caused by a disease of the salivary glands or a condition such as Sjögren's Syndrome, which is common in menopausal women. Whatever the cause, it's important not to ignore a feeling of dry mouth, because you can develop additional oral health problems in the long term.
According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, chronic dry mouth (also known as xerostomia) typically affects older adults. Some of the symptoms that indicate you could be suffering from this condition are:
Problems eating, particularly chewing and swallowing dry, crumbly foods such as crackers and cereals
Painful denture sores and difficulty with denture retention
Lack of taste when eating foods
Painful tongue and a need to drink water, particularly during the night
Bad breath, cracked lips and mouth sores
In advanced stages, dry mouth can lead to more complications like additional dental cavities, the enlargement of the parotid gland, infection of the salivary glands, oral thrush infections, and ulcers on the tongue and mouth tissue.
Solutions and Treatment
Consult with your doctor to find out whether your dry mouth is a result of medication or an underlying medical condition. If not, try to identify the cause by reviewing your daily routine. Address any unhealthy smoking and drinking habits, and make sure your mouth remains hydrated by drinking water throughout the day.
Avoid foods with a high sugar or spice content, and acidic foods that can aggravate tooth decay. You can also chew sugarless xylitol gum or candy to stimulate the production of saliva in your mouth while freshening your breath.
Your dentist may also recommend products such as saliva substitutes that you can use to replace the moisture in your mouth, or saliva stimulants such as Natrol Dry Mouth Relief, which comes in the form of lozenges that you can dissolve in your mouth three times a day.
What Mouthwash Should I Use?
Products containing alcohol tend to increase dryness, so avoid regular, alcohol-based mouthwash. Products such as Colgate Total® Advanced Pro-Shield™ mouthwash can be used twice a day. This mouthwash is also sugar-free and contains an active ingredient approved by the FDA, which helps to avoid dry mouth by preventing the buildup of plaque and reducing your risk for gingivitis.
Above all, protect your teeth by combining your mouthwash for dry mouth with thorough brushing that includes a toothpaste containing fluoride, such as Colgate® PreviDent® 5000 Dry Mouth, a prescription containing 1.1 percent sodium fluoride. Your dentist may prescribe this for you.