Believe it or not, saliva plays an important role in your health. Not only does it help cleanse the mouth, it also helps digest food. Saliva also helps keep infections at bay by keeping bacteria and fungi under control. When saliva production is slowed or halted, the mouth quickly dries out and becomes uncomfortable.
Dry mouth, known as xerostomia, occurs when saliva production shuts down. In some cases, the condition is temporary and a glass of water can eliminate the problem. In chronic cases, however, treatment becomes a bit more complicated. Thankfully, there are several remedies that can help chronic dry mouth patients find relief.
What Causes Dry Mouth?
This problem can be caused by a number of things, including the following:
- Dehydration – Dry mouth is sometimes the result of dehydration caused by a fever, diarrhea, vomiting, sweating, burns and loss of blood.
- Nerve damage – Nerve damage to the neck and head area can also cause dry mouth.
- Side effect of a medical treatment – Certain medical treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, can cause damage to the salivary glands and slow down saliva production.
- Side effect of medication – Certain medications can also cause this problem, especially those used to treat allergies, colds, anxiety, pain and depression. In some cases, dry mouth is a side effect of certain sedatives and muscle relaxers.
- Lifestyle choices – Smoking or chewing tobacco can also affect the amount of saliva the mouth produces. These habits can also exacerbate the problem if you already suffer with chronic dry mouth.
- Surgery – If your salivary glands were surgically removed, dry mouth will likely be a problem.
What Are The Main Symptoms?
The most common dry mouth symptoms include:
- A dry, red and raw tongue
- Increased thirst
- Dry, sticky feeling
- Sore throat
- Bad breath
- Dry nose
- Burning sensation in the mouth
- Mouth sores or split skin at the corners of the mouth
Chronic Dry Mouth Remedies
When it comes to chronic dry mouth, the biggest concerns are preventing tooth decay, increasing the flow of saliva and addressing any underlying medical conditions that may be causing the problem. There are several ways to treat this condition and minimize the risk of tooth decay.
1. Restoring Electrolytes – If dehydration is causing your problem, restoring electrolytes can help eliminate the problem. Mix together:
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 8 oz. of water
- Freshly squeezed lemon, lime or orange
- Drink one cup per day to help alleviate dry mouth symptoms.
2. Eat Hydrating Foods – Water-logged foods, like celery, cucumber and watermelon, help stimulate the saliva glands and keep the mouth hydrated.
3. Stay Hydrated – If you’re suffering with chronic dry mouth, staying hydrated becomes even more important. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your mouth moist. Avoid or cut back on alcohol, soda, coffee and sugary juice drinks as they make the problem worse.
4. Change Your Breathing Habits – Breathe through your nose instead of your mouth. This will prevent your mouth from drying out.
5. Humidify the Room – If you live in an area with dry air, use a humidifier to add moisture to the air. Your home’s humidity levels play a major role in the development of dry mouth. Air tends to be the driest during winter when forced air heating is used.
Preventing dry mouth is the key to minimizing the risk of tooth decay and a host of other oral health issues. Avoiding sugary and acidic foods is important. Drinking plenty of water and practicing good oral hygiene can also help you with the battle against chronic dry mouth. Always consult your dentist first.