Dry mouth, also called xerostomia, isn’t just an unpleasant symptom — it’s also a contributing factor to several issues that could seriously hamper your self-esteem and dental well-being. Aside from such things as contributing to bad breath or increasing the odds of needing work for a cavity, feeling like you have cotton mouth can also lead to an overall feeling of “something’s just not right.” Although your dentist is the best person to help figure out the root cause of your dry mouth, there are some steps you can take at home to lessen the effects of this troublesome issue while you wait for your appointment.
Focus on Self-Care
Self-care is the best at-home remedy for dry mouth, and we don’t mean a DIY spa day while sipping mimosas. Self-care, or seeing to your basic needs and focusing your emphasis on prioritizing them, can go a long way in curbing dry mouth. Start with these lifestyle changes to get your juices flowing:
Anxiety can worsen the effects of xerostomia. Try meditation, journaling, yoga or anything else that can help you calm your body and quell that fight-or-flight reaction that comes from nerves, which in turn may free up your body’s ability to produce saliva.
- Quit Smoking or Vaping
Quitting smoking is difficult, and it often takes multiple tries for those seeking to stop using nicotine to kick the habit for good. Both smoking and vaping can worsen the sensation of dry mouth, with the latter being even more likely to cause cotton mouth. If you can make a quit attempt or even scale back, you may see an improvement in your symptoms.
- Ditch the Alcohol
A drink every now and again isn’t a problem for most people, but if you find you’ve got a bad case of dry mouth, try shelving your after-work beer or weekend brunch wine until it clears up. Alcohol is dehydrating, and can worsen the effects of xerostomia.
- Drink More Water
Water is the human version of oil in a machine. Without it, things dry up. If you’re not meeting your water goals for the day, start there. If you are, see if taking in a little extra water helps lessen the effects of dry mouth: your body or lifestyle may mean adequate hydration requires more water than someone of a similar demographic, especially if you’re extremely active or work outdoors in the heat.
Talk to Your Doctor
Even if you don’t have a long wait to see your dentist, talking to your doctor about dry mouth isn’t a bad idea. Dental health and overall health often go hand in hand, and xerostomia is no exception. Your general practitioner can help rule out some common root causes of low saliva flow, or offer suggestions to help mitigate the effects.
- Underlying Medical Conditions
A whole host of medical conditions can cause dry mouth. Anxiety disorders, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, HIV/AIDS and Sjogren’s syndrome are just a few. Ruling out these chronic conditions or properly treating them can ameliorate xerostomia.
Sometimes, dry mouth is a side effect of medications. Antihistamines, decongestants and some antidepressants are common offenders, but dry mouth can spring up as a side effect of nearly any medication, since your individual body chemistry is unique. Consult with your doc or pharmacist to see if switching to a similar medication may lessen the effects.
- Radiation Therapy
There’s no use stating that cancer sucks, but dry mouth can add insult to injury if you’re receiving radiation therapy to your head or neck. Speak to your oncologist about mitigating the effects and what can be done to offset dry mouth.
- Sleeping With Your Mouth Open
Sleeping with your mouth open can worsen or cause dry mouth. It isn’t always a sign of a bigger problem: you’re more likely to do so if your nasal and sinus passages are clogged. But sometimes sleeping with your mouth open necessitates further investigation from a medical professional. Your doctor may recommend a sleep study to rule out things like sleep apnea.
See Your Dentist
Keeping you smiling is the goal of the office of Drs. Krieger and Hur. The first step to solving your dry mouth woes is booking an appointment for a checkup — you can do that by calling the office at (201) 560-0606 or clicking here to send us an email.
The solution depends on what we see. We might end up creating a custom mouth guard to keep mild sleep apnea under control or steering you in the right direction of a toothpaste, rinse or other oral care products specifically formulated for those living with dry mouth. Your mouth — and the health of your smile — are as unique as you are. So book your appointment to get the individualized, custom care you deserve.