Wet your whistle . . . and other ways to relieve dry mouth
Do you get dry eyes, dry skin and dry mouth this time of year? Many people tend to blame the cold, dry winter air that seeps into homes in much of the country. But it’s not actually the main cause of dry mouth.
Why you might have dry mouth
Dry mouth can be caused by a number of things, including:
- Mouth breathing
But when dry mouth is persistent, it is usually because your salivary glands are not producing enough saliva. This can happen as the result of a:
- Possible side effect of many common medications or treatments, including those for high blood pressure, depression, anxiety and cancer
- Symptom of certain diseases and health conditions – especially if you experience chronic dry mouth – like diabetes, Alzheimer’s or Sjögren’s syndrome
- Common side effect of tobacco and alcohol use
Fortunately, there are several ways you can potentially find relief from dry mouth.
Try these solutions
If you’re experiencing dry mouth on a regular basis, make an appointment with your dentist or physician. They will help you determine the cause and offer treatment suggestions. They may offer solutions like these to alleviate the symptoms and stimulate saliva flow.
- Use an over-the-counter saliva substitute.
- Limit caffeine, as it makes your mouth drier.
- Sip water regularly.
- Chew sugar-fee gum.
- Suck on sugar-free hard candies.
- Use a topical fluoride product – available in some toothpastes, mouth rinses or gels – to protect your teeth.1
- Avoid tobacco and alcohol because they can dry out your mouth.
- Rinse with an alcohol-free mouthwash labeled specifically for dry mouth relief.
- Run a humidifier to add moisture to the air at night.
Why it’s so important to treat dry mouth
Because saliva is critical in protecting the teeth and tissues of the mouth, dry mouth can lead to a host of oral health complications, including:
- Tooth decay
- Gum disease
- Mouth sores
- Thrush (an infection of the mouth and throat)
- Cracked lips
- Split skin at the corners of the mouth
- Bad breath
- Difficulty chewing, speaking or swallowing
- Sore throat and hoarseness
- Change in taste
- Problems keeping dentures in place due to lack of saliva for suction
Dry mouth isn’t just uncomfortable. Because of these oral health issues, it can also hurt your smile and overall quality of life. Make sure to talk to your dentist or physician if dry mouth persists.