Everyone gets an occasional dry mouth — especially this time of year when you’re enjoying the warm summer weather. Drinking liquids, particularly water, ensures you stay hydrated. But, what if you get dry mouth frequently? It can be a sign of a serious problem.
Dry mouth, known as “xerostomia”, also happens for reasons other than thirst. Sometimes it’s the result of nerves, anxiety, or stress. Some medications such as antihistamines, antidepressants, and certain analgesics cause xerostomia. Whatever the reason, it means you aren’t producing enough saliva, which is hugely important to your oral health.
Saliva is predominantly composed of water. It contains important substances that the body needs to digest food and keep the teeth strong. When your body doesn’t make enough of it, your gums become swollen and uncomfortable. Inflamed gums are where bacteria have a place to grow and spread making you susceptible to infection.
Saliva also helps prevent tooth decay by washing away debris from the surface of the tooth. It moistens and breaks down food to ease swallowing and enhances ability to taste.
Tips to Increase Saliva
In an effort to wet your mouth, try these:
- Ice chips
- Sugarless chewing gum
If dry mouth continues, your dentist may recommend rinsing with artificial saliva. Artificial saliva is a liquid or spray sold without a prescription. It can be used as often as necessary. It helps keep your mouth moist and comfortable. However, artificial saliva doesn’t contain the proteins, minerals, and other substances found in real saliva that help with digestion.
The next time you visit your dentist, be sure to mention if you are suffering from any dry mouth symptoms and always give a full list of the medications you are taking. In the interim, maintain a healthy oral hygiene routine, brushing and flossing at least twice a day for two minutes.