If you have a health condition or take certain medications that cause dry mouth (xerostomia), you may wonder if this is truly an issue to worry about. Dry mouth can potentially be an issue for your oral health, as saliva plays an important role by protecting your teeth from cavities and maintaining a balanced microbiota.
You may want to talk to your dentist about how you can improve your oral health if you suffer from dry mouth. In the meantime, here are four tips to help you reduce the side effects of xerostomia and/or increase your saliva flow.
Use a Water Flosser
A water flosser, or a water jet, is an electronic instrument that you can use at home to flush debris from your mouth that you might have missed during brushing and flossing. Water flossers shoot streams of water that can loosen and clear plaque. They can improve saliva flow since they add moisture to the mouth.
Some water flossers have strong water-jet settings that can help to clean debris from gum tissue and gum pockets. Since dry mouth can increase the risk of gingivitis, it's a good idea to use a water flosser to maintain gum health.
Since you will only use a water flosser once or twice a day, you will need other ways to add moisture to your mouth. You should avoid caffeinated beverages since these can actually cause dehydration. Staying hydrated may seem like an obvious tip, but you may not be getting as much water as you think. One study found that half of U.S. adults don't drink enough water. You should ask your doctor how many glasses of water you should be getting a day. Also, people with xerostomia may have better results if they sip water throughout the day instead of just drinking a glass all at once.
Check Your Mouthwash's Ingredients
Because dry mouth can increase the risk of cavities, you may be using a mouthwash during your brushing/flossing routine. It's important that you check your mouthwash's ingredients as some mouthwashes can be incredibly drying and greatly affect your saliva flow. Look for mouthwashes that aren't alcohol-based products. There are non-ethanol formulas out there that are geared towards people with dry mouth.
Chew Sugar-Free Gum
While sugary gum is detrimental to your oral health, the American Dental Association (ADA) says that chewing sugar-free gum can help you increase the saliva flow in your mouth. This increased saliva flow can neutralize and wash away acidic byproducts that can cause plaque and cavities.
Reach out to a local dentist for more information on dry mouth and how to keep your mouth healthy.