Dry mouth syndrome, also called xerostomia, is a condition characterized by a dry-feeling mouth and a lack of saliva. This condition is a fairly common problem among seniors. One study found that 16% of patients who were 60 years or older suffered from dry mouth syndrome, while 31% suffered from decreased salivary flow. If your mouth starts feeling uncomfortably dry as you get older, your dentist may recommend managing your symptoms with home remedies. Here are four home remedies that can help moisten your mouth.
Drinking More Water
When your mouth is uncomfortably dry due to a lack of saliva, drinking more water can offer some relief. The water moistens your mouth and helps to counteract your discomfort. Start bringing a water bottle with you so that you can take sips whenever your mouth starts to feel dry and uncomfortable.
Dehydration can contribute to dry mouth syndrome, so make sure you're taking in adequate fluids throughout the day. The Mayo Clinic says that men should consume about 13 cups of beverages throughout the day, while women need less at 9 cups of beverages per day. This includes all fluids, not just water.
Chewing gum is another way to manage your dry mouth symptoms at home. How does gum help a person with dry mouth syndrome? The act of chewing tells your salivary glands to produce saliva. This happens because saliva plays a role in breaking down your food, and it also helps to clean the teeth.
To take advantage of your body's natural response to chewing, carry a pack of gum with you and chew gum every time your mouth starts to feel dry. However, not all gums are created equal. Sugary bubble gums may be tasty, but the sugar in these gums can contribute to oral health problems like cavities. To avoid harming your teeth, choose sugar-free varieties. Some gums even have the American Dental Association Seal on their packaging, and when you see this seal, you can trust that the gum is safe for your teeth.
Using Saliva Substitutes
Saliva substitutes, also called artificial salivas, are products that seek to replace the function of your saliva. These products don't perfectly replicate natural saliva, but they can help to keep your discomfort at bay.
Saliva substitutes come in many forms, including sprays, lozenges and mouth rinses. These over-the-counter products can be purchased from places like pharmacies and grocery stores and are used as needed or on a schedule determined by your dentist. If your mouth still feels dry after using one of these products, tell your dentist. Stronger saliva substitutes are available by prescription, and these products may give you the relief you need.
When your mouth is uncomfortably dry, it's important to avoid things that will dry it out even more. Caffeine has been shown to slow down your saliva production, so to avoid making your symptoms worse, try to avoid caffeine.
Many common foods and drinks contain caffeine. Coffee is a well-known source of caffeine—a single cup can contain as much as 180 mg of caffeine—but it's found in other sources, too. Teas, energy drinks, and soft drinks all contain caffeine. Foods that contain chocolate, like brownies or ice cream, also contain caffeine. Try to minimize your consumption of these foods and drinks to avoid drying out your mouth any more.
If you're suffering from the unpleasant symptoms of dry mouth syndrome, a dentist may recommend managing the dryness at home with remedies like water, gum, saliva substitutes or caffeine avoidance. If you're having trouble managing your symptoms with home remedies, ask your dentist about other treatment options.