Feel like you need to constantly wet your whistle? Drinking water is always a positive thing, but when you’re constantly grabbing your water bottle because your mouth feels dry, that’s a warning sign. Dry mouth, professionally known as xerostomia, is a serious dental problem with big associated health risks. If you’re suffering from dry mouth, getting treatment will not only protect your teeth and gums from harm but get you feeling comfortable again.

Certain individuals are more likely to experience dry mouth. If you’re on the high risk list, it’s a good idea to be extra vigilant and always check in with your dentist on schedule. Below, we’ve compiled information on common dry mouth symptoms, risk factors and home care options. If you think your mouth is feeling dry, don’t hesitate to get in touch for help.

Xerostomia Health Risks

Dry mouth might not seem serious on its own, but considering the larger ramifications makes the dangers clearer. Your teeth are constantly bathed in saliva, which is something that we can take for granted. While saliva might seem arbitrary, it’s actually performing several incredibly important jobs.

Saliva keeps the mouth moist, and helps you perform daily tasks like chewing, tasting and swallowing. But what we don’t always appreciate is how instrumental saliva is in preventing tooth decay, gum disease and other oral issues. Saliva fights bad oral bacteria to prevent enamel erosion and irritated gums, and also prevent bad breath. So when there’s not adequate saliva present, your mouth begins to suffer.

Some problems that can stem from dry mouth include:

  • Plaque buildup, leading to cavities and gum disease
  • Oral sores
  • Oral fungal infection
  • Coated tongue
  • Sores or cracks at the corners of the mouth
  • Poor nutrition from difficulties chewing and swallowing

How Can I Tell if I Have Dry Mouth?

Ask yourself the following questions, and see how many you answer with “Yes:”

  • Does your mouth often feel dry or uncomfortable?
  • Do you struggle when speaking due to your mouth feeling dry?
  • Do you avoid dry foods because you have difficulty swallowing them?
  • Does your mouth feel dry while you’re eating a meal?
  • Do you notice the amount or lack of saliva in your mouth?

If you’re unsure whether you have dry mouth, or if you notice a sudden change in your saliva level, considering some complicating factors can help you draw conclusions. There is a large number of conditions, diseases and medications that can trigger xerostomia, including

  • Smoking
  • Anxiety or stress
  • Age
  • Pregnancy
  • Hypertension
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • HIV
  • Parkinson’s
  • Hepatitis
  • Sjögren’s syndrome
  • Many medications that fall under these categories: diuretics, antihistamines, antidepressants, sedatives, muscle relaxants, and more. Always check with your dentist after you start a medication to make sure it won’t impact your oral health – 64% of dry mouth cases are due to medication.

Home Care for Xerostomia

Changing some of your home habits will help improve dry mouth and keep your teeth and gums safely covered in saliva. There are also products that will help protect teeth – we detail those in the next section.

  • Drink water – Every time you drink water, you help cleanse your teeth and wash away acids and bacteria. Water is not only great for your teeth and gums, but for your whole body, and staying hydrated can help you feel alert and productive throughout the day. Make water your all-day drink of choice, whether you have dry mouth or not!
  • Chew xylitol gum – Xylitol has natural antibacterial properties, and can help keep your enamel safe all day long. Chewing sugar-free gum also helps stimulate saliva production, so it’s a win-win.

  • Cut down on snacking – When you snack, you’re not consuming as much food (and therefore stimulating as much saliva) as you do during a meal. So sugary or starchy snacks can wage an acidic war on your enamel, without enough saliva to wash the acids away. Try to reduce snacking and get plenty to eat at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Best Products for Dry Mouth

There are many different types of dry mouth products, some of which include:

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  • Dry mouth spray – Sprays are quick and easy to use at any point throughout the day
  • Dry mouth lozenges – Allowing these to slowly melt in the mouth helps stimulate saliva the way chewing gum does
  • Xylitol slow-release tablets – Great for patients who experience dry mouth at night while sleeping
  • Rinses for dry mouth – Fluoride rinses help strengthen enamel and moisten the mouth

We also offer a prescription-strength treatment called CariFree. This helps reverse the pH in your mouth to create a healthy environment for enamel. If you have dry mouth, CariFree can help regulate your mouth and prevent tooth decay. Reach out today for more information!

Dr. Kim Dr. Kim

Dr. Kim Okamura

I'm Dr. Kim Okamura and this blog is a product of my love of dentistry. I dedicate it to all the patients I have served so that they may better understand my craft. The information here will give you and others the power to maintain and protect one of your most priceless gifts ... your SMILE.