Do you suddenly feel like you don't have enough saliva in your mouth? Are you having trouble swallowing or even talking? Insufficient saliva can be caused by a condition known as dry mouth. The good news is that treating dry mouth can be easy, and in many cases, you may just need some at-home treatments. Find out what these are and when you might need to go to a dental professional.
What Is Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth is also known as xerostomia. It refers to a condition in which your salivary glands aren't making enough saliva to keep your mouth wet. Saliva is essential because it prevents tooth decay, enhances your ability to taste, makes it easier for you to swallow, and aids in healthy digestion. So dry mouth can have an impact on your overall health.
How do you know if you have dry mouth? The Mayo Clinic notes that if you have this condition, you will have the following symptoms:
- Thick and stringy saliva
- Bad breath
- Difficulty speaking, chewing, and swallowing
- Dry or sore throat, or generally a feeling of dryness in your mouth
- Grooved or dry tongue
- Changes in your sense of taste
How to Treat Dry Mouth at Home
To relieve the symptoms of dry mouth at home, you can try any of the following treatments:
- Sucking on sugar-free hard candies or chewing sugar-free gum
- Sipping or sucking ice chips to moisten your mouth through the day
- Adding moisture to your bedroom as you sleep, in the form of a humidifier
- Trying over-the-counter saliva substitutes that contain xylitol, carboxymethylcellulose, or hydroxyethyl cellulose.
- Practicing breathing through your nose and not your mouth
Certain products can make your symptoms worse, and you should avoid them if you can. These include caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, OTC antihistamines and decongestants, and sugary or acidic foods.
Adopting a good oral hygiene routine is also key: brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day and clean daily between your teeth with interdental brushes, floss, or water flossers.
So when should you see your dentist or doctor for your dry mouth? If your symptoms aren't going away with any at-home treatments, it's best to consult with your dentist or doctor. Either of them may prescribe medication that stimulates saliva production.
It should also be noted that dry mouth can be related to another health condition. The Cleveland Clinic points out that dry mouth is a common side effect of drugs used to treat allergies, pain, anxiety, depression, hypertension, diarrhea, urinary continence, and Parkinson's disease. Your doctor may decide to change your medication in these cases to help with your dry mouth symptoms.
Experiencing dry mouth can be quite uncomfortable because it causes difficulty with eating and swallowing. But with some at-home treatments, you can very easily and effectively treat your dry mouth. And if your symptoms continue, your doctor and dentist can help ensure that you'll go back to enjoying your favorite foods in no time at all!