The condition of dry mouth is not only uncomfortable but can also cause oral issues such as tooth decay and gum disease. Some causes of dry mouth, or xerostomia, include certain medications, aging issues, and radiation therapy for cancer. Saliva helps prevent tooth decay by neutralizing acids produced by bacteria, limiting the bacteria’s growth, and washing away food particles. Therefore, when there is very little saliva, the environment is ripe for decay. Decreased saliva and a dry mouth can have a major impact on your general health and the health of your teeth and gums, in addition to your enjoyment of food. Your Fuquay-Varina dentist can help diagnose the specific cause of your dry mouth and suggest actions you can take to lessen it. In this article, we explore some natural remedies that you can do at home to relieve your dry mouth. However, we recommend that you get evaluated for xerostomia before trying a home remedy.
What Is Dry Mouth?
The condition of dry mouth occurs when your saliva glands aren’t producing an adequate amount of saliva. It is also referred to as xerostomia and hyposalivation. Dry mouth in itself isn’t an official diagnosable condition, but it is sometimes a symptom of another condition.
Symptoms of Dry Mouth
If you aren’t producing enough saliva, you may become aware that you have these symptoms the majority of the time:
- Saliva that seems thick and stringy
- Bad breath
- Dryness or a feeling of stickiness in your mouth
- Dry or sore throat
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, and speaking
- Dry or grooved tongue
- Problems wearing dentures
- A change in sense of taste
Possible Causes of Dry Mouth
Here are several possible causes of a dry mouth.
Medications. Many medications including over-the-counter drugs, can produce a dry mouth as a side effect. Some of the medications most likely to cause problems are those used to treat depression, high blood pressure, and anxiety. Additionally, antihistamines, decongestants, pain medication, and muscle relaxers can contribute to a dry mouth.
Cancer Therapy. Radiation treatments to the head and neck can damage salivary glands so the amount of saliva is decreased. The effects can be temporary or permanent, depending on the radiation dose and the area treated. Chemotherapy drugs can change the amount of saliva produced and the nature of the saliva. This may be temporary with normal salivary flow normalizing after treatment is completed.
Aging. Many older people experience dry mouth as they age. Factors may include the use of certain medications, changes in the body’s ability to process medication, long-term health problems, and inadequate nutrition.
Tobacco and Alcohol Use. Drinking alcohol and using tobacco products can amplify dry mouth symptoms.
Recreational Drug Use. Methamphetamine use can cause severe dry mouth and damage to teeth, a condition that is also known as “meth mouth.” Marijuana also can cause dry mouth.
What You Can Do At Home to Improve Dry Mouth
Basically, doing things that can help hydrate you are key to lessening your dry mouth. Here are some natural remedies that you can do at home for a dry mouth.
Make Your Own Mouthwash
A mouthwash combining water, salt, and baking soda mimics saliva and is easy to make:
- Blend one (1) cup of warm water with 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1/8 teaspoon salt.
- Swish in your mouth for a few seconds, then rinse out with water.
- Repeat every three (3) hours.
Keep the Environment Moist
Using a personal humidifier can keep the air moist and help with the dryness you experience when you have a dry mouth. Have liquids near you to sip so as to help keep your mouth and throat moist.
Use Sugar-Free Gum and Lozenges/Candy
Chewing sugar-free gum and sucking on sugar-free lozenges and candy will stimulate the flow of saliva short-term. This would include products like cough drops, lozenges, and other candies. Note, however, that xylitol, which is an ingredient in sugar-free products, may cause diarrhea or cramps when consumed in large amounts.
Stop Tobacco Use
Smoking tobacco can dehydrate your mouth. Studies have found that smoking may increase dry mouth issues.
Limit Alcohol Use
Alcohol can dehydrate, contributing to dry mouth even though a connection to dry mouth hasn’t been substantiated. Try drinking water instead of alcohol to stay hydrated.
Caffeinated beverages can be dehydrating and have been shown in studies can cause dry mouth. Avoid beverages such as caffeinated coffee and tea.
Cut Down on Sugar
Foods with high amounts of sugar may dehydrate you. Cut down on sugar or eliminate it altogether if you can. This includes foods and beverages containing sugar.
Use Alcohol-Free Mouthwash
Mouthwashes that contain xylitol can help improve saliva production and provide short-term relief for dry mouth. Overall, mouthwashes are effective for good oral hygiene and should be used daily.
Improve Oral Care
A dry mouth can be both the cause and a symptom of poor oral hygiene. Improving your oral routine is essential to protecting your mouth. Always floss after eating (or at least twice a day), use fluoride toothpaste, and use mouthwash.
Using Herbal Remedies
Many herbs and plants can help stimulate saliva production and relieve dry mouth symptoms on a short-term basis, including these.
The gel/juice inside the aloe vera plant leaves is a moisturizer. Drinking or swishing aloe vera juice can treat the dryness experienced with xerostomia.
Ginger stimulates saliva production. Many studies have shown ginger to be effective in improving the symptoms of dry mouth.
Hollyhock root, like aloe vera, is a moisturizing agent. Drink hollyhock tea to help hydrate and moisturize your mouth.
Similar to aloe, marshmallow root is also a moisturizing plant. It is popular in traditional herbalism and has been shown to help with dry mouth.
Nopal cactus is a traditional food and medicine in Mexico that is gaining popularity in the health industry. It is also called prickly pear cactus. It has been shown to improve dry mouth. If you have difficulty finding the fruit, try taking Nopal capsules.
Spilanthes is a popular herb that assists in saliva production and can also improve dental health. Spilanthes drops work well to lessen dry mouth symptoms.
Sweet peppers promote increased saliva production. Add sweet pepper to your meals or eat alone to help dry mouth symptoms
Using oils such as coconut and sesame can provide some relief from a dry mouth. Hold a few drops in your mouth for 10 to 15 minutes without swallowing. The oil cleans out your mouth and creates a coating that soothes irritations.
American and Asian Ginseng
Traditional Chinese medicine uses a combination of herbs to help promote saliva production. American and Asian ginseng are core ingredients in these herbal remedies.
Contact Us for Dry Mouth
If you are experiencing the symptoms of dry mouth, our team at Hamby Family Dental Center can help diagnose it and make recommendations for lessening the uncomfortable indications. Based on the information you give us regarding any medications or treatments you are taking, we can help. Contact us today for a checkup so we can help you improve your saliva production. Call us at 919-552-2431 or fill out the form below.