Dry Mouth Causes & Remedies:
How to Prevent Dry Mouth
Xerostomia (more commonly known as ‘dry mouth’) is a common oral problem with numerous possible causes. It may seem like a minor problem when compared to other oral health issues, but learning how to prevent dry mouth is more important than you may think. Not only is dry mouth annoying and uncomfortable, but it can cause significant oral health problems down the line, so it’s important to identify and treat those causes as soon as possible.
All of our mouths get dry from time to time, and sometimes a sip of water is all it takes. If you’re not certain whether you’re currently suffering from a more severe or chronic form of dry mouth,
Common symptoms include:
- Frequent thirst
- Sore throat
- Dry, cracked lips or skin at the corners of the mouth
- Mouth sores
- A dry, raw tongue
- Trouble chewing and swallowing
- Bad breath
What Causes Dry Mouth?
Any number of causes can cause a mouth to get dry and in order to stop dry mouth, it can be important for you to identify what is causing it in the first place. Here are some common causes for dry mouth:
- Dehydration: Perhaps the most intuitive. If you’re not drinking enough water (or else are becoming dehydrated as a result of vomiting, diarrhea, blood loss or excess sweating) you will commonly experience dry mouth.
- Illness: Dry mouth can often be a side effect of a number of medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s, anemia, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, high blood pressure (hypertension), Parkinson’s and rheumatoid arthritis. If you’ve recently suffered a stroke, you may also be suffering from dry mouth.
- Medications: Many prescription (and over-the-counter) drugs also include dry mouth as a side effect. This is common in medications used to treat colds, anxiety, depression, allergies, epilepsy, asthma and more. Be sure to refer to the possible side effects on your medication to discover if dry mouth is a known side effect.
- Nerve damage: In some cases, dry mouth may come as a result of nerve damage to the head and/or neck, whether through injury or as a result of surgery.
- Lifestyle: Certain aspects of your lifestyle may also be causing dry mouth. Smoking or chewing tobacco can have an adverse effect on how much saliva you produce. Breathing with your mouth open can be a problem as well, and may become particularly noticeable after waking.
How to Prevent Dry Mouth
- As you may imagine, learning how to prevent dry mouth can depend pretty heavily on what’s causing it in the first place.
- Drink plenty of water: Assuming no other mitigating factors, like medication or an existing illness, dehydration is the simplest and most obvious cause of dry mouth, and it has an equally simple solution: drink plenty of water. Not only will it help keep your mouth moist, but drinking water can contribute to weight loss, energy, focus and concentration, healthy skin and healthy kidneys.
- Talk with your doctor: If you suspect your dry mouth is as a result of medication you’re taking, your doctor may be able to adjust the dosage or suggest an alternative form of medication.
- Chew sugar-free gum (or sucking on sugar-free hard candies): Chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free candies can help stimulate production of salvia which, in turn, helps stop dry mouth.
- Use an artificial saliva substitute: These can be easily found over-the-counter at your local drug store, and can be especially helpful for those with chronic dry mouth as a side effect of an illness.
- Brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste and use a fluoride rinse.
- Breathe through your nose: Since breathing through your mouth can be a significant cause of dry mouth, breathing through your nostrils can help prevent it.
This, of course, is much more difficult to control at night when you’re asleep, so using a room humidifier or vaporizer can help add moisture to the air while you sleep, limiting the risk of dry mouth.
- Other lifestyle changes: If you smoke or chew tobacco, there are numerous health benefits to stopping, and preventing dry mouth is no exception. Limiting your caffeine intake can also be of benefit, as caffeine has been known to make your mouth drier.
While dry mouth is certainly annoying and uncomfortable, it’s important to remember that dry mouth can also significantly increase your risk of tooth decay, gingivitis and mouth infections. This is because, in addition to moistening our mouths and helping us digest our food, saliva prevents infection by controlling bacteria in the mouth. For this reason, knowing how to prevent dry mouth is not just about your own comfort, but about your health.
How Aspen Dental Can Help
If you are experiencing symptoms of dry mouth, make sure to speak with your local Aspen Dental dentist and learn tactics to prevent it moving forward.
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