We’ve all felt our mouth go dry on occasion when we’re nervous or upset. But for some people, this is a persistent problem. Your saliva contains water, enzymes, electrolytes, as well as mucus and plays an important role in your oral health 1 If there isn’t sufficient saliva in your mouth, it dries out, causing problems like bad breath, dry lips, mouth infections, gum disease, tooth decay, and trouble swallowing, eating, and speaking.
Dry mouth or xerostomia can be caused by factors like breathing through your mouth, dehydration, chemotherapy, and the use of certain medications. Medical issues like diabetes, infections which affect your salivary gland, Sjögren’s syndrome, and HIV can also result in a dry mouth. It is important to see a doctor and identify and treat any underlying medical problem if you’re constantly struggling with dry mouth.2 Your doctor may also suggest oral moisturizers or artificial saliva to deal with this problem.3 But you could also put in place a few simple steps and try some home remedies to relieve a dry mouth.
1. Drink Lots Of Fluids
Drinking fluids can help to thin out saliva and mucus. So remember to carry your water bottle with you and aim for eight to ten cups of fluid in a day.
2. Suck On Ice
Sucking on ice chips or cubes can help when you have dry mouth. The ice will melt gradually, keeping your mouth moistened for a while.
3. Apply Vitamin E
Vitamin E oil can be applied to sore or dry parts in your mouth for relief if you suffer from dry mouth. This can be done two to three times in a day. Use vitamin E at times that your mouth needs it the most – say at bedtime, after your meals, if you need to talk for a long time, or while you’re exercising.4
4. Cut Out Oral Products Which Dry Your Mouth
Don’t use oral products which contain witch hazel or alcohol. Also avoid fluoride rinses as these can exacerbate your dry mouth.5
5. Avoid Irritants
Smoking, alcoholic drinks, and foods like coffee, tea, and sodas which contain caffeine can worsen your dry mouth as well as cause irritation. So make sure you keep away from tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine.6
6. Chew On Sugar-Free Candies Or Gum
The action of chewing and sucking can stimulate salivary glands and lead to the production of more saliva. But sugary candies or gum can give you cavities so get hold of some sugar-free gum or candies. A compound known as xylitol which is used as a sweetener may also help guard your teeth against decay. Therefore, trying products with xylitol can help you kill two birds with one stone – they can keep your mouth moistened and your teeth healthy.7
7. Use A Humidifier
Using a humidifier at night during months when the air is dry can help to improve moisture and ease discomfort. Try setting your humidifier at around 40 to 50 percent humidity to combat dryness.8
8. Have Papaya Or Pineapple
Both papaya and pineapple can help thin out your saliva. Papaya contains an enzyme known as papain while pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain. These enzymes can break down proteins present in mucus and make saliva thinner. Try drinking papaya or pineapple juice before or along with your meals. However, this remedy is not recommended if your mouth is sore as these fruits may then make things worse.9
9. Take Care Of Oral Hygiene
Saliva helps to maintain a healthy balance of microorganisms in your mouth and wash away cavity-causing food particles and acids. Therefore, a dry mouth often leads to oral problems like mouth infections, sores, cavities, and gum disease. This makes good dental practices critical if you have dry mouth. Here are a few things that you should be doing:
- Brush your teeth before going to bed and after every meal. Use some toothpaste and a toothbrush with soft bristles to do this. Soaking your toothbrush in warm water can further soften the bristles so that they’re gentle on your gums and teeth.
- Floss once gently, every day.
- Rinse out your mouth four to six times in a day, taking particular care to rinse after you have a meal. You can use a home-made mouthwash made of one teaspoon of equal parts of baking soda and salt, dissolved in a cup of warm water.10
10. Adapt Your Meals
You may have problems swallowing and eating if you have dry mouth. But simple measures can increase the moisture content of your food and make meals more palatable:
- Having smaller, more frequent meals can help to stimulate the flow of saliva.
- You can add moisture to foods by including soup, broth, sauces, yogurt, or gravy in your meals. For instance, rice or bread can be had with gravy while vegetables can be dunked in sauce.11
|↑1||Tiwari, Manjul. “Science behind human saliva.” Journal of natural science, biology, and medicine 2, no. 1 (2011): 53.|
|↑2||Dry Mouth. National Health Service.|
|↑3||Dry Mouth? Don’t Delay Treatment. U.S. Food and Drug Administration.|
|↑4, ↑5, ↑7, ↑8||Simple Solutions for Treating Dry Mouth. Sjögren’s Syndrome Foundation.|
|↑6||Dry Mouth? Don’t Delay Treatment. U.S. Food and Drug Administration.|
|↑9||Managing saliva problems in motor neurone disease. Motor Neurone Disease Association.|
|↑10||Dry Mouth or Xerostomia. American Society of Clinical Oncology.|
|↑11||Mouth dryness or thick saliva. American Cancer Society.|