Dry mouth isn’t a disease but is often a side effect or symptom of various other conditions affecting salivary gland function. Regardless of its cause, find out what to do about dry mouth below.
What are the symptoms of dry mouth?
Dry mouth has several symptoms outside of the obvious dry feeling in your throat. You may experience the following as well:
- Incessant thirst
- A hoarse voice
- Dry tongue
- Bad breath
- Persistent sticky feeling in the mouth
Many things may cause you to develop dry mouth, such as certain medications. Aging can also contribute to the prevalence of dry mouth. However, it is important to tackle the issue head-on with help from your dentist, as dry mouth can lead to larger problems such as tooth decay.
Dry mouth remedies
Chew sugar-free gum
Chewing sugar free gum or hard candies can help stimulate the salivary glands, alleviating the symptoms associated with dry mouth. Try to find a brand sweetened with xylitol, which is a natural sugar alcohol that has been shown to prevent cavities.1
Keep in mind, however, that excessive amounts of sugar-free treats can cause stomach cramping or diarrhea, so don’t overdo it. Use other methods to stimulate saliva production as well.
Avoid alcohol-based mouthwashes
Mouthwashes that contain alcohol can be overly drying, so you want to opt for an alcohol-free mouthwash2 or a brand designed especially for dry mouth. Just like with sugar free candy, some products contain xylitol, which is an ingredient recommended by dentists, giving you the extra benefit of fighting against tooth decay.
Drink plenty of water
Sipping water throughout the day can help combat dry mouth. If you find it difficult to up your water intake, try keeping a reusable water bottle with you at all times that you can refill when needed. Many reusable plastic water bottles are even designed with counters that you can turn with every refill, helping you keep track of your intake.
Unfortunately, both alcoholic and caffeinated beverages contribute to dry mouth3, so avoiding them in some capacity may help your symptoms in the long run. That being said, you may not want to give up your favorite drinks anytime soon, such as that first cup of coffee in the morning. Cutting back on these types of beverages can go a long way toward alleviating some of your symptoms.
Breathe through your nose
Many people breathe through their mouths, which can cause throat irritation in addition to dry mouth. Even if you don’t think you’re a mouth breather4, if you frequently wake up with a parched mouth or throat, you’re probably breathing through your mouth at night. If this is the case, use a room humidifier to add extra moisture to the air, and be sure to breathe through your nose during the day. If this problem persists, you may want to discuss the problem further with your doctor or dentist, as you may be sleeping with your mouth open because of a problem like sleep apnea.5
Stop tobacco use
Cigarettes and chewing tobacco are harmful to your health in many ways, and dry mouth is one of them. In addition to dry mouth, tobacco use has been proven to cause several other dental problems such as:6
- Periodontal disease
- Tooth loss
- Gum recession
- Mouth pain
How a dentist can help with dry mouth
Dry mouth is a nuisance without a single permanent fix, but it’s nice to know there are several steps you can take toward stimulating those salivary glands and banishing dry mouth. Scheduling a dental appointment is the first step in finding a solution that works right for you.
Does your dental insurance cover dry mouth causes? Find out if dental insurance covers dry mouth causes.
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Brought to you by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. Material discussed is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only and it is not to be construed as tax, legal, investment or medical advice. This is not dental care advice and should not be substituted for regular consultation with your dentist. If you have any concerns about your dental health, please contact your dentist's office.