How to Combat Dry Mouth

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What to know

Chronic dry mouth occurs when you don't produce enough saliva. Dry mouth can lead to cavities, periodontal disease, and tooth loss. The condition can be a side effect of more than 400 prescription and over-the-counter drugs, such as antidepressants, antihistamines, and high blood pressure medicines. Other causes include cancer treatments and hormone changes during menopause. These seven tips can help you protect your teeth.

  1. Carry candies or gum

Hard candies and chewing gum can help ease dry mouth, but use the sugarless kind (and avoid sugary foods in general) so you don’t promote cavities. Not only can gum and candies keep your breath fresher, but they can also stimulate saliva production.

  1. Water it down

Include plenty of fruit, soups, sauces, and other foods high in water content in your diet. Sip water frequently and keep a glass of it at your bedside at night. Avoid biscuits, crackers, and dry snacks.

  1. Toss tobacco

Don’t smoke or use tobacco in any form. Even chewing tobacco dries out your mouth.

  1. Reduce alcohol use

Cut back on or eliminate alcohol, which can irritate teeth and is drying to tissues.

  1. Keep the air moist

Use a humidifier at home to keep the air from drying out, especially in your bedroom at night.

  1. Care for your teeth

Brush with a fluoride toothpaste (use a brush with soft bristles) and floss frequently. See your dentist regularly. He or she may recommend topical fluoride treatments and prescription oral rinses for further protection against cavities.

  1. Time your medications

Because some medications can cause dry mouth, ask your doctor if they can be changed or dosages reduced. Or, if a drug is causing dry mouth at night, you may be able to combat it by spacing doses throughout the day, when it’s also possible to brush your teeth often and drink plenty of fluids.