Did you know saliva plays a significant role in oral and physical health? It does! Still, many people don’t think twice about their saliva until it’s gone!
At Charvet Dental, we care about your saliva and know its essential role in keeping your mouth healthy and pain-free. If you feel like you might not have enough saliva, or your mouth constantly feels dry and unpleasant, you’re not alone. Though dry mouth is more common in older adults (about 25% of the senior population), it affects people of all ages. Roughly 10% of people experience dry mouth, which could be lifelong or go away once the cause of it is addressed.
However, we’re happy to say there are ways to decrease your risk of experiencing temporary or chronic dry mouth! Before we check them out, let’s talk about what dry mouth is and why boosting saliva production is important.
What Is Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth is an uncomfortable condition caused when your salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva. Those with dry mouths likely have thick, stringy saliva and a rough, dry tongue.
Unfortunately, dry mouth is more than just feeling like you need a sip (or ten!) of water. Dry mouth alters taste and creates bad breath and dry lips. It can also lead to difficulties chewing, swallowing, and talking, making eating and communicating challenging and uninviting. Long-term sufferers of dry mouth who have trouble eating could eventually experience complications of poor nutrition.
The condition, also known as xerostomia, can lead to an increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease from increased bacteria and plaque, mouth sores, and oral yeast infections.
Dry mouth can be temporary or permanent, depending on the cause of your condition.
How Can You Prevent Dry Mouth?
Luckily, dry mouth can be treated and prevented, and most treatments for either scenario are the same. So, if you already suffer from dry mouth, don’t worry. You can benefit from this blog, too. So don’t click away! Let’s review ways to prevent (or soothe) dry mouth.
Stimulate Saliva Production.
You know how your mouth salivates when you get hungry, or you’re about to eat? When your mouth is dry, eating can be painful, causing you to likely not chew your food into small enough pieces. Because chewing stimulates the creation of saliva, your choking risk increases because saliva holds food together and lubricates the throat to aid swallowing.
You can encourage saliva production by chewing sugar-free gum (sugar-free is vital to protect your oral health!) or sucking on hard, sugar-free candy.
Avoid Alcohol And Caffeine.
Alcohol is found in mouthwashes and beverages (but only if you’re of age!). We recommend you avoid ingesting or rinsing your mouth with alcohol because it can dehydrate you.
Caffeine can be a great pick-me-up, but, unfortunately, it can also dry the mouth out if you have too much. We recommend avoiding it altogether, especially because caffeine is usually in drinks that can stain the teeth or lead to cavities.
Stop Tobacco Use.
Nicotine inhibits blood flow in the body, including in your gums! Restricted blood flow leads to a dry mouth because it minimizes saliva flow, too! Avoid products with tobacco! If you need assistance or resources to start the quitting process, please ask one of our understanding and helpful dentists, Dr. Hunter L. Charvet or Dr. Hunter L Charver Jr.!
Water helps treat dehydration, a cause of dry mouth. When you drink water, you are also rinsing your mouth from bacteria and just like chewing sugar-free gum, it can stimulate your saliva production! Staying hydrated is an easy way to combat dry mouth!
Try Store-Bought Saliva Substitutes.
Saliva substitutes add moisture to and lubricate the mouth. These can help you avoid and treat the symptoms of dry mouth.
Make sure you read the instructions on your product of choice! You should also check the ingredients. Some saliva substitutes can include the ingredient xylitol, which is also found in gum and candies. For some, if consumed in large amounts, it can cause diarrhea or cramps.
Limit Use of Antihistamines And Decongestants.
If you have allergies, your medications might contribute to developing a dry mouth. Antihistamines and decongestants, like alcohol, can be very drying.
When your body activates the histamine receptors to combat allergy symptoms, it causes a runny nose and watery eyes to rid the body of the immune system perceived as threatening. In this case, the danger is pollen or pet dander. Antihistamines block histamine receptors to prevent the body’s annoying reaction to these non-threats so you can go about your day with little trouble.
Decongestants are medications that help clear a runny or stuffy nose. Difficulty breathing through the nose is often caused by swelling due to allergies or a cold. Decongestants help by shrinking swollen blood vessels and tissues to clear the nasal passageways.
Unfortunately, many antihistamines and decongestants cannot just target the areas you aim to treat. When antihistamines block histamine receptors and decongestants restrict blood flow, they also limit your saliva production, leading to a dry mouth.
We recommend looking for another way to combat your symptoms, but if you can’t, reduce your use as much as possible and remove any allergens from around you as you can.
Have Dry Mouth? Charvet Dental Can Help!
There are many causes for dry mouth and many ways you can adjust your lifestyle to avoid it or minimize your side effects of it.
For a more detailed list, contact our office to speak to a helpful team member. If you prefer personalized advice, schedule an appointment with one of our experienced and knowledgeable dentists, Dr. Hunter L. Charvet or Hunter L. Charvet Jr.
Living with a dry mouth can be challenging and frustrating, especially if you seem to suffer from it repeatedly. Our team can help break the cycle for you and your family. See us soon; we are excited to begin eliminating dry mouth from your life.