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If you suffer from dry mouth, you know the symptoms well. That dry feeling in your throat. The incessant thirst. Hoarseness. A dry tongue. That sticky feeling in the mouth that never seems to go away. The bad breath.
Xerostomia, or dry mouth, isn’t a disease, but it’s often a side effect or symptom of various other conditions affecting salivary gland function. Regardless of its cause, find out what to do about dry mouth below.
Chewing sugar-free gum or hard candies can help stimulate the salivary glands, alleviating the symptoms associated with dry mouth. Try to find a brand sweetened with xylitol, which is a natural sugar alcohol that has been shown to prevent cavities. Keep in mind, however, that excessive amounts of sugar-free treats can cause stomach cramping or diarrhea, so don’t overdo it.
Mouthwashes that contain alcohol can be overly drying, so you want to opt for an alcohol-free mouthwash or a brand designed especially for dry mouth. Some products contain xylitol, which is an ingredient recommended by dentists, giving you the extra benefit of fighting against tooth decay.
Sipping water throughout the day can help combat dry mouth. If you find it difficult to up your water intake, try keeping a reusable water bottle with you at all times and refill it when it’s empty. Many reusable plastic water bottles are even designed with counters that you can turn with every refill, helping you keep track of your intake.
Unfortunately, both alcoholic and caffeinated beverages contribute to dry mouth. Even if you don’t want to give up your favorite drinks anytime soon, cutting back can go a long way toward alleviating some of your symptoms.
Many people breathe through their mouths, which can cause throat irritation in addition to dry mouth. Even if you don’t think you’re a mouth breather, if you frequently wake up with a parched mouth or throat, you’re probably breathing through your mouth at night. If this is the case, use a room humidifier to add extra moisture to the air, and be sure to breathe through your nose during the day.
Cigarettes and chewing tobacco are harmful to your health in many ways, and dry mouth is one of them. In addition to dry mouth, tobacco use has been proven to cause periodontal disease, tooth loss, gum recession, mouth pain, and cavities. Smokers are also twice as likely to need root canal treatments. Talk to your doctor about strategies for quitting a bad habit, especially if you need help breaking your nicotine addiction.
Dry mouth is a nuisance without a single permanent fix, but it’s nice to know there are several steps you can take toward stimulating those salivary glands and banishing dry mouth. Scheduling a dental appointment is the first step in finding a solution that works right for you.
Brought to you by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. Material discussed is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only and it is not to be construed as tax, legal, investment or medical advice. #2016-28223 (exp. 9/18)
Image via Flickr by Hyoh
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