For most people, a dry mouth is one of the signs of thirst and a glass of water will quench both. There are some people, however, for whom a dry mouth is a daily and annoying problem. Also known as xerostomia, dry mouth happens as a result of insufficient saliva production. To combat this, Putnam dentist, Dr. Carolyn McGinn and Dr. Walter McGinn would like to offer some tips to help you avoid and treat a dry mouth.
Why Dry Mouth Happens
Xerostomia happens when there is not enough saliva to keep your mouth moisturized. This happens when saliva glands don’t work properly. There are several factors that can contribute to insufficient saliva production including:
- Certain diseases, such as diabetes, Hodgkin’s disease, leukemia, autoimmune disorders like Sjogren’s syndrome and AIDS
- Radiation treatment and chemotherapy for cancer
- Certain medications
- Vitamin deficiencies
Symptoms of Dry Mouth
Obviously, the leading symptom of dry mouth is the parched feeling that makes eating, talking and swallowing uncomfortable. But there are other symptoms, as well. Many people experience a burning sensation in the mouth, and they may even develop sores. Lips may become chapped and the corners may crack. Last but certainly not least, bad breath and a foul taste are also common symptoms of xerostomia.
Treating Your Dry Mouth
There are several things you can do at home to relieve a dry mouth.
Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water. Your dentist in Putnam recommends keeping a water bottle on hand so you can take frequent sips. Even if dehydration is not the reason behind your dry mouth, drinking water helps to wash away bacteria that can lead to cavities and gum disease.
Suck on sugar-free candy. Sucking on sugar-free candy or mints can stimulate saliva flow and temporarily relieve the symptoms of a dry mouth.
Chew sugar-free gum. Like sucking on sugar-free candy, chew sugar-free gum can also encourage saliva production. Make sure both candy and gum are sugar-free because too much sugar can lead to tooth decay.
Avoid caffeinated beverages. Coffee, tea, cola and other caffeinated drinks can be quite drying to your mouth. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have these—just be sure to select the decaffeinated variety instead.
Avoid alcohol. Like caffeine, alcohol is drying. Limit alcoholic beverages and check the label on your mouthwash because many contain alcohol.
Quit smoking. If you’re a smoker, quit. In addition, to being harmful to your overall health, smoking inhibits saliva production.
Use a humidifier. If you notice that your mouth is particularly dry when you wake in the morning, then part of the problem may be that you’re breathing in air that is too dry. Try placing a humidifier in the bedroom or any room in which you spend a lot of time.
Call Our Office Today
If you try these suggestions and your mouth is still dry, contact Putnam dentist Dr. Carolyn McGinn and Dr. Walter McGinn to schedule an appointment.