Have you ever been so thirsty that your mouth was completely dry? Chances are if this has happened to you, you drank some water and everything went back to normal. But did you know that for some people, this thirsty feeling doesn’t go away so easily?
Xerostomia, or dry mouth, is a common problem that many people, especially seniors, experience. Dry mouth can lead to many other dental problems, such as decay or gum disease. Because of this, it is important to treat dry mouth quickly.
Fortunately, there are many options for dry mouth treatment. Keep reading to learn more about treatment options for dry mouth as well as things you can do at home to prevent any long-term effects.
What is Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth is exactly what it sounds like – a dry mouth. Because saliva plays a crucial role in killing bacteria in the mouth, dry mouth can lead to serious dental issues. There are several possible causes for dry mouth. It could be the side effect of something you are taking, a treatment you have undergone or a disease you currently have. Smoking or chewing tobacco can also lead to dry mouth, or it could be as simple as dehydration. However, it could also be a symptom of a more serious, underlying condition, such as nerve damage.
Symptoms for dry mouth include:
- A sticky, dry mouth
- Frequent thirst
- Mouth sores or cracked lips
- Dry or sore throat
- A burning or tingling sensation in the mouth
- A dry, red or raw tongue
- Difficulty tasting, chewing, swallowing or speaking
- Dry nasal passages
- Bad breath
Treatment for Dry Mouth
If you experience these symptoms, you should consult your doctor or dentist. They will be able to help determine the cause of the problem. If the cause ends up being something you are currently taking or another medical condition, your doctor can work with you to come up with the best treatment. There are certain pills you can get that help increase the flow of saliva, such as Pilocarpine or Cevimeline. Ask your doctor about prescribing one of these.
If you want to take extra caution, there are plenty of other ways to treat dry mouth at home.
Over-the-Counter Oral Rinses
There are some oral rinses specifically designed to stimulate saliva production that can be purchased or prescribed. An alternative to this is an over-the-counter saliva substitute. Look for rinses or substitutes that contain one or more of the following ingredients:
- Carboxymethyl cellulose
- Hydroxymethyl cellulose
With or without an oral rinse, there are some items you probably already have in your home that can help treat dry mouth.
- Water. This is perhaps the most obvious solution, but drinking a lot of water will help add some moisture back into your mouth. Water also can help wash away any leftover food particles after eating that may cause decay – a job that saliva normally performs. You should also avoid any drinks containing caffeine, alcohol or acid (such as fruit juices) as these things can dry out your mouth. Substitute any drinks that fall into these categories with water.
- Sugar-Free Gum or Candy. Chewing on a piece of gum or sucking on a piece of candy can help stimulate salivary glands, restoring some moisture to your mouth. Just be sure to only use sugar-free gum or candy so that you are not adding any sticky decay-causing particles back into your mouth.
- Moist Foods. You can moisten up different foods by adding items such as broth, soup, sauce, gravy, creams, butter or margarine. Avoid salty, dry or high-in-sugar foods, as the former two will absorb moisture and the latter will increase your chance of decay.
Helpful Foods to Eat
If you are experiencing dry mouth, it is important to watch what you put into your mouth. Because dry mouth makes you more susceptible to tooth decay, you should avoid any sticky or sugary foods. However, there are several foods you can eat that can actually help treat dry mouth or some of the side effects.
- Celery. Celery is approximately 95% water. Chewing on a stick not only adds some water back into your mouth but also saliva as it stimulates salivary glands. Similar vegetables that may also be beneficial are iceberg lettuce and cucumbers.
- Cayenne Pepper. Certain spices, such as cayenne pepper, help bring moisture back into your body by stimulating salivary glands, sweat glands and tear ducts.
- Fennel. Fennel is an herb that helps combat bad breath, which is a common side effect of dry mouth. Fennel can also be combined with other herbs, such as rosemary, to make a mouthwash.
- Rosemary. Rosemary has beneficial oral health properties and can be used to make a bacteria-fighting mouthwash that won’t dry out your mouth. One recipe to try: 1 teaspoon of rosemary, mint and aniseed with two and a half cups of boiling water. Let cool, strain and then store in the refrigerator.
- Parsley. Parsley is a natural breath sweetener, and it’s also a great source of vitamin A and C, calcium and iron.
- Aniseed. The herb aniseed also helps combat bad breath.
Some other ways you can treat dry mouth at home include:
- Breathe through your nose and keep your mouth closed
- Sleep with a room vaporizer or breathe steam to help restore moisture back into your airways
- Practice good oral hygiene to prevent any further complications from arising
The most important thing to remember if you have dry mouth is to practice good oral hygiene. Without saliva in your mouth, you are at a much greater risk for tooth decay and other diseases. Make sure you are brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing once a day and using a fluoridated, alcohol-free mouth rinse. If any complications do arise, contact your dentist immediately to resolve the issue as soon as possible.
Have you ever had dry mouth? If so, what treatments did you use?