You’ve heard about how someone at a time of extreme stress get a case of dry mouth. It’s a story usually about physical danger that causes dry mouth (or, in the case of a performer or speaker needing water nearby). However, here’s my ongoing warning about how serious dry mouth is for those who suffer from it daily.
Dry mouth can lead to severe dental health problems and the condition should not be ignored. So, just what is dry mouth and do you have it? Dry mouth is the sensation that you do not have enough saliva in your mouth. It is the reason behind the dry mouth that is important.
Remember, everyone gets dry mouth on occasion, but excessive time suffering dry mouth can be an indicator of a variety of health issues including the possibility of diabetes that has not been diagnosed. Dry mouth can also be a consequence of sleep apnea and also as a side effect of some medications. If you take prescription medications on a regular basis, you should check with your doctor to see if there is a different medication that may not trigger dry mouth.
As for the oral health effects, dry mouth can lead to tooth decay and receding gums, which in turn can become a catalyst to tooth loss. So, let’s turn to the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research for some tips on how to avoid dry mouth and some tips on oral care to reduce it.
To reduce dry mouth:
- Sip water or sugarless drinks often.
- Avoid drinks with caffeine, such as coffee, tea, and some sodas. Caffeine can dry out the mouth.
- Sip water or a sugarless drink during meals. This will make chewing and swallowing easier. It may also improve the taste of food.
- Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless hard candy to stimulate saliva flow; citrus, cinnamon or mint-flavored candies are good choices.
- Don’t use tobacco or alcohol. They dry out the mouth.
- Be aware that spicy or salty foods may cause pain in a dry mouth.
- Use a humidifier at night.
Oral hygiene ways to combat dry mouth:
- Gently brush your teeth at least twice a day.
- Floss your teeth every day.
- Use toothpaste with fluoride in it. Most toothpastes sold at grocery and drug stores have fluoride in them.
- Avoid sticky, sugary foods. If you do eat them, brush immediately afterwards.
- Visit your dentist for a check-up at least twice a year. Your dentist might also suggest you use a prescription-strength fluoride gel (which is like a toothpaste) to help prevent dental decay.