Do you have a mouth as dry as the Sahara?
It's not the best feeling in the world, to say the least. The doctors call it Xerostomia. And it occurs when your salivary glands are slacking on the job (they're not producing enough saliva in your mouth).
Your mouth becomes parched. It feels dry. And if that wasn't bad enough, it can cause other symptoms like bad breath, dry throat, and cracked lips that are unkissable. It’s rough (pun intended). But more on the side effects later.
Saliva is an important part of your body's digestion processes: it moistens and breaks down food. Your oral goo is also protective, dare we say obsessive, about your dental health, working day and night to protect your mouth against gum disease and tooth decay. So when enough of it isn’t being produced in your mouth, it can be cause for concern.
Don’t fret too much, a dry mouth has its effects but it’s not the end of the world. Though it could be a symptom of a more serious underlying medical problem, it’s usually fixable.
So, between the cracked lips and a potential Alzheimer's scare, it's needless to say that treating your dry mouth is paramount. And in this article, we're going to layout the symptoms, shed light on the causes of dry mouth, and suggest research-backed products to treat that dry feeling.
Your dry mouth will be gone in no time. Ready? Let’s get started.
How can I tell if I have a dry mouth?
Some people may be able to spot a dry mouth right away. Others may be experiencing it, but not know their condition exactly. If you have the following symptoms, as indicated by a study published in the National Library of Medicine, you could very well have a dry mouth:
- A dry or sticky feeling in your mouth
- Thick, stringy saliva—a sign of dehydration
- Chapped lips
- Bad breath
- You may have difficulty chewing, speaking, and swallowing. A dry mouth can also affect your taste buds, leaving a metallic, salty, or other taste in your mouth
- Your throat may feel dry and sore, with hoarseness to it
- A dry and grooved tongue
If you're worried about your dry mouth symptoms, the best-qualified professional is a dentist. As part of your dental appointment, your dentist will check both your mouth and teeth for signs of dry mouth syndrome and any related problems, such as tooth decay.
What is causing my dry mouth?
You might be curious about what exactly is causing your dry mouth. Some culprits are active lifestyle choices, others are more passive and out of your control. Either way, if you have a dry mouth, it's worth looking into the causes for troubleshooting.
- Aging: as people age, they often experience dry mouth. There are several contributing factors, including the use of certain medications, changes in the body's ability to process medications, inadequate nutrition, and long-term health problems.
- Exercising or playing in the heat: As the body's fluids are concentrated elsewhere, salivary glands can become dry and the saliva thick and stringy. It's more likely that you'll develop dry mouth symptoms if your exercise is for a prolonged time.
- Dehydration: if you're not getting enough water, or you have a fever, excessively sweating, vomiting, have diarrhea, blood loss, or burns, a dry mouth is soon to appear.
- Medications: Many medications, including some OTCs (over-the-counter drugs), can cause dry mouth. Some of the drugs used to treat depression, high blood pressure, anxiety, and some antihistamines, decongestants, muscle relaxants, and pain medications are more likely to cause problems.
- Health conditions: Some health conditions, like diabetes, stroke, autoimmune diseases (Sjogren's syndrome or HIV), yeast infections (thrush) in the mouth, or Alzheimer's, can all cause dry mouth. Snoring or breathing with your mouth open (by habit or if you have anxiety or panic attacks) can also lead to a dry mouth.
- Nerve damage: to the head or neck can affect the nerves that provide sensation to the mouth–which could result in that dry mouth feeling.
- Drug use: smoking/chewing tobacco and marijuana, and drinking alcohol can slow down saliva production and aggravate dry mouth symptoms after happy hour. Methamphetamine is also known to cause severe dry mouth and damage to teeth, aka, "meth mouth."
How can I get rid of my dry mouth?
So now that you know the symptoms and causes of a dry mouth, the next obvious question becomes what to do about it. Luckily for you, we've gathered five research-backed products that can help treat dry mouth quickly and easily.
Remember that if you have underlying oral health problems, it would be advisable to consult a dental professional to provide advice or more appropriate prescription drugs to suit your needs.
Rinse with Special Mouthwash
Mouthwash is great for improving oral hygiene and freshening your breath, but special kinds of mouthwashes can also help resolve a dry mouth.
Pop a Dry Mouth Lozenge
Brush with the Right toothpaste
Again, if you have any health conditions that you have doubts about regarding your body's reaction to the products (for most, highly unlikely), then it's best practice to consult your family physician or dentist. If dry mouth problems persist, it can be worth investigating whether there's an underlying problem like salivary gland dysfunction.
Now that you're educated and equipped with the right set of knowledge and products, you can manage dry mouth like a pro and ensure your mouth feels nothing remotely close to the Sahara desert ever again.