How to Treat Dry Mouth (Cottonmouth) Effectively
September 29, 2023
Does your mouth feel dry, even when you drink plenty of water? This could be a classic indication of a dental condition called Dry Mouth. Also known as cottonmouth or xerostomia, it is a common dental problem faced by many. However, it can be quite uncomfortable to deal with, which is why it’s important to understand the condition and how to treat it.
To do that, you need to know the telltale signs that indicate this condition. These symptoms include:
- Thick and stringy saliva
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- Sore throat
- Dry or cracked lips
- Bad breath
- Tooth decay
- Dry and itchy eyes
- Change in taste
- A hoarse voice
- Mouth ulcers
- Bleeding gums
These symptoms mainly occur due to a lack of moisture or saliva in your mouth. So, if you begin to notice any of these signs, it’s important to seek dental care because saliva is necessary for some critical functions in the mouth.
Common Causes of Dry Mouth
Saliva is important for a number of reasons, especially if you want to maintain good oral health. It helps by aiding digestion, protecting your teeth from decay, controlling bacteria in the mouth and making chewing and swallowing easy.
However, there are some factors that disrupt the production of saliva in the mouth, such as:
- Certain drugs and medications
- Certain medical conditions (diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinsons, etc.)
- Inflammation caused by a viral or bacterial infection
- Breathing through the mouth
- Blockage of salivary ducts
- Anxiety and stress
- Smoking and alcohol
- Head and neck injury that can damage nerves and salivary glands
How to Treat Dry Mouth?
The good thing about dry mouth is that it is treatable. While there are a few things you can do, the first step is to schedule a consultation with our friendly dentists. During the consultation, we can assess your mouth and understand your medical history to identify the cause of dry mouth. After that, we will recommend the best treatment option for you.
Treatment may involve the following:
Changes to your medication
Dry mouth can be a side effect of certain medications you take. Changing your medicine might be one of the easiest ways to fix dry mouth syndrome. However, this should only be done with the guidance of a health professional. Have a chat with your doctor about it, and they may change the dosage or prescribe an alternative medication. If that’s not an option, our dentist can recommend medications that help stimulate salivary glands to produce saliva.
Modifications to your diet
Did you know that certain foods can help stimulate saliva production? If you are suffering from dry mouth, here are some changes you can make to your diet to help produce saliva:
- Drink plenty of water to keep your mouth hydrated
- Limit or eliminate the consumption of caffeine, alcohol and other beverages with high acid or sugar content
- Avoid spicy, dry and crunchy foods
- Avoid smoking and tobacco products
- Eat fruits and vegetables that have a high water content
Saliva substitutes & dry mouth products
When you visit our dentist for dry mouth, we may recommend using a saliva substitute or other dry mouth products. Saliva substitutes, also known as ‘oral moisturisers’, can help keep your mouth moist if used as directed by our dentist. We may also recommend specially formulated products for dry mouth, such as mouthwash, toothpaste and topical gels.
In some cases, you may have damaged nerves or blockages in the salivary glands, which prevents normal saliva production. On such occasions, your dentist may recommend minor surgery to clear these blockages, facilitating normal saliva production once again.
Dry mouth can also occur because of an underlying medical condition. In that case, you should visit a medical professional for treatment. Your doctor will then recommend appropriate medication for the condition and prescribe antibiotics and anti-fungal drugs in the case of an infection.
Tips to Manage & Treat Dry Mouth At Home
In addition to getting professional dental care, there are some proactive steps and things you can do in the comfort of your home to manage dry mouth.
Relieve the discomfort of dry mouth syndrome by:
- Improving your oral hygiene as dry mouth syndrome can increase the risk of dental problems such as tooth decay and gum disease
- Chewing sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production
- Chewing food thoroughly before swallowing
- Visiting your dentist for regular checkups
- Sipping liquids frequently
- Breathing through your nose instead of your mouth
- Using a humidifier in your room to increase air moisture
- Moisturising your dry lips
If left untreated, dry mouth can lead to dental complications like tooth decay and gum disease. So, if you suspect you have dry mouth syndrome, make your way over to our dental practice. Our friendly dentists will thoroughly assess your mouth to identify the cause and craft a personalised treatment plan for you.
We’re always here to help you maintain a beautiful, healthy smile. Contact us or schedule an appointment if you have any concerns about dry mouth or any other dental conditions.