Dry mouth is a common, if annoying symptom in many people. It is caused by the loss of saliva in the mouth, creating a cottonmouth effect. Dry mouth can make it difficult to swallow, eat and talk. It can also cause tissue in the mouth to crack and become irritated and can lead to bad breath. More serious health issues, such as lost fillings, gum infections and tooth decay, have also been associated with dry mouth.
The most common cause for dry mouth is generally aging. The more a person ages, the more he loses the ability to generate saliva. Another cause for dry mouth is the overuse of medication. There are more than 400 over-the-counter medications known to cause dry mouth. Caffeine is also a leading cause for dry mouth.
Sucking on fruit pits, such as peaches, nectarines and cherries, and on candies and gum can generate saliva in the mouth. Sugarless varieties of candy and gum, though, are recommended since sugar can lead to tooth decay. Eating foods softened with sauces or gravies can also generate saliva. Drinking lemon juice diluted with water or rinsing the mouth with some lemon and glycerin is another good remedy, but citric acid could become an irritant if a person is suffering from mouth sores, a common symptom, so should be used sparingly and cautiously. Other remedies include eating fruits and vegetables, such as raw carrots, celery and apples, and regularly drinking water.
Other Home Remedies
Other home remedies for dry mouth include rinsing with fluoride. Since dry mouth can increase the risks of cavities and gum disease, rinsing with fluoride can offer some protection to the teeth and gums. Avoid fluorides that contain alcohol. Vaporizers are also great. They generate humidity in the air and keep evaporation in the mouth from occurring. This is especially true if a person breathes through her mouth. Another home remedy is simply to breathe through the nose. Saliva substitutes containing such ingredients as carboxymethylcellulose or hydroxyethyl cellulose, are also highly effective in preventing the mouth from becoming dry.
Keeping the teeth healthy and caring for them regularly is an important step in preventing dry mouth. A toothpaste brand that is high in fluoride is highly recommended. Brushing teeth at least twice a day will also reduce dryness in the mouth. It is important to regularly change toothbrushes as well. This should be done every six months. Regular checkups with a dentist will not only prevent serious dental problems from occurring, but will also reduce symptoms related to dry mouth.
Along with these home remedies, there are a number of things that should be avoided to decrease the symptoms of dry mouth. They include phosphoric acid, such as found in soft drinks; citric acids such as found in orange juices or any other citric-based juices; coffee that contains caffeine; smoking; and antihistamines and decongestants.