Many people suffer from significant dry mouth. This may be congenital, it may be related to certain medications, it could be caused by dentures, or it may be related to aging. Fortunately, there are many ways to deal with dry mouth to help you enjoy a more normal life.
Why Treat Dry Mouth
There are many good reasons to treat dry mouth. First, there’s the question of comfort. If your mouth and throat are dry all the time, they will have a tendency to be uncomfortable. You might have a hard time talking. If you wear dentures, dry mouth can increase irritation on your gums.
More importantly, though, saliva is vital to your oral health. Saliva suppresses oral bacteria, keeps your mouth from becoming acidic, and helps remineralize teeth that have been damaged. It’s why breathing through your mouth at night might increase your risk of cavities and can cause bad breath.
But how can we manage dry mouth? There are different types of products that are available to help control your dry mouth.
Rinses are the most common over-the-counter treatment for dry mouth. They are easy to use, just like a regular mouthwash, and some of them even contain fluoride. Sometimes they come premixed, but other times they may be a powder that you mix yourself. Unlike regular mouthwash, they contain oils and other compounds that can help coat your mouth, providing more long-lasting relief from dry mouth than just the contact with the liquid.
Gels can be spread on your teeth and gums to mimic the effects of saliva. These are often recommended for denture wearers, because they can both combat dryness and help with retention.
Lozenges and Chews
One successful approach to stimulating your saliva is to actually eat something. But snacking all day or sucking on candy can just make the problem worse for your teeth. And although chewing sugar-free gum constantly might be okay for your teeth, it can injure your jaw.
That’s why they have developed lozenges and chews that are designed to help protect your mouth. These are sweetened with xylitol, which doesn’t encourage bacterial growth, it suppresses it.
Often lozenges and chews also contain minerals that are designed to protect your teeth against decay and even help them to remineralize, like your natural saliva does.
However, if you have dry mouth and none of the over-the-counter remedies seem to be helping, it may be time to talk to your doctor or a dentist about prescription medication. These medications can stimulate your body to produce more saliva. However, they do have risks, and it’s important to take these into account.