If you are dealing with xerostomia, or dry mouth, you may have symptoms such as bad breath, stringy saliva, difficulty chewing or swallowing, or a sore throat. You should reach out to your dentist for solutions on how to deal with this issue. Sometimes dry mouth is caused by an underlying medical condition; for instance, people with undiagnosed sleep apnea may have dry mouth since they breathe through their mouth at night.
Whatever the reason, it's important to address dry mouth because a lack of saliva can make one susceptible to cavities. Saliva is your mouth's natural cleaner since it helps to wash away food debris and since it contains electrolytes—like sodium, magnesium, and calcium—that strengthen teeth. Here are four tips to reduce dry mouth symptoms.
Chew Sugar-Free Gum
If you chew some gum for about 20 minutes after eating, you'll be able to improve saliva flow and prevent cavities. However, you don't want to chew gum that has a high sugar content since that'll defeat the purpose of strengthening your enamel. Look for sugar-free gum with low-calorie sweeteners, such as xylitol gum. Xylitol can slow the growth of bacteria that's associated with cavities, such as Streptococcus mutans.
Ask Your Dentist About Medication Side Effects
While dry mouth can certainly be caused by conditions or disease, it can also be a side effect of certain medications, such as stimulants, antidepressants, antihistamines, benzodiazepines, anticholinergics, etc. Talk with your dentist and doctor about possible alternatives for your medications. For instance, if you take antihistamines for allergies, there may be formulas that cause less overall dryness in your nasal passages and mouth.
Drink More Water
You may think that you are staying hydrated, but keep in mind that not all beverages are equal when it comes to preventing dry mouth. Drinks with caffeine tend to cause dry mouth since they are diuretics and rid the body of water and sodium. Drink tap or bottled water if you can to improve saliva flow. Along with improving saliva flow, drinking fluoridated water is an easy way to prevent cavities.
Use the Right Oral Hygiene Products
When you visit your dentist, be sure to tell him or her what types of toothpaste and mouthwash you are using each day. Toothpaste that contains certain ingredients, like sodium lauryl sulfate, may be more drying than other brands. You may also want to opt for an alcohol-free mouthwash. Mouthwashes with ethanol may do a thorough clean, but they can reduce saliva and hinder the development of good oral bacteria.
Reach out to a dentist today for more details.