Dry mouth, medically termed as xerostomia, is a very common condition experienced by many people. It simply occurs when your salivary glands do not release as much saliva as you would normally need and this causes you to have an unpleasant dry mouth. Dryness in the mouth can also occur because of a change in the composition of saliva and that causes discomfort in your mouth. The condition also threats your dental health. For instance, it can lead to tooth decay, mouth infections and periodontal (gum) disease. Dry mouth can be a temporary discomfort or a chronic problem with dangerous health risks.
Causes of Dry Mouth
Dry mouth is usually caused by dehydration. If you consume too much coffee or if you are exercising for a long time and find yourself with a dry mouth, you are probably experiencing a diuretic effect. Be sure to drink enough water during the day.
A vitamin deficiency can cause a sense of dryness by affecting the lining of the mouth, even though saliva production is normal.
Some medications that are used to treat depression, nerve pain (neuropathy) and anxiety, as well as some antihistamines, decongestants, muscle relaxants, and painkillers can cause dry mouth (1). You should carefully read the label of all medications if you need to take them.
Medical Side Effects
Dry mouth can be a side effect of diseases, such as diabetes, gingivitis or irritation of gums, leukemia, yeast infection, Sjogren’s disease, pernicious anemia, nerve damage, Hodgkin’s disease, autoimmune diseases and AIDS. Cancer patients may lose the ability to release saliva because chemotherapy and radiation therapy damages salivary glands.
Salivary glands do not usually work properly due to aging, anxiety, stress, menopause, snoring, depression, smoking, and drinking alcohol (2, 3, 4, 5). Pregnant or breastfeeding mothers may also have dry mouth because of the dehydration and hormonal changes.
Common Symptoms of Dry Mouth
Some of the symptoms of dry mouth includes:
- A cotton feeling that can make talking, eating and swallowing difficult
- Loss of taste
- Dry throat
- Cracking near the corners of your lips
- Tingly feeling in your mouth and tongue
- Bad breath which is hard to get rid of
- Excessive unquenchable thirst
- A rough tongue
- Thick or stringy saliva
If you have any of these symptoms, then you might be experiencing dry mouth.
How to Get Rid of Dry Mouth
You can easily get rid of dry mouth by using simple home remedies. Try to follow the given remedies every day until the symptoms are gone.
1. Increase Your Fluid Intake
One of the most common reasons of dry mouth is dehydration. For this reason, increasing your fluid consumption to keep your body hydrated is the best thing you can do for yourself. Being hydrated enough will make it easier for your body to release more saliva, which helps you get rid of the symptoms of dry mouth. Always remember that sipping water can also help remove harmful bacteria from your teeth and tongue until your saliva flow becomes normal again.
- Try to drink a great deal of water throughout the day. You can also suck on small pieces of ice, if you are not able to drink water.
- You can consume smoothies, fruit juice or vegetable juice. Consuming one or two glasses of coconut water daily can help you get rid of dry mouth.
- You can also consume partly frozen chunks of water-based fruits and vegetables such as pineapple, watermelon and cucumber.
- Try to drink herbal teas such as green tea or chamomile tea throughout the day.
Stay away from caffeinated beverages, sodas and alcoholic drinks. Because these kinds of beverages can contribute to dehydration. It is also crucial to avoid drinking acidic beverages such as orange juice, soft drinks and any drink that contains citric or phosphoric acid. Because acid and dry mouth together result in tooth decay.
2. Suck on Sugar-Free Candies
Sucking on sugar-free candies or mints can activate your salivary flow and this relieves your symptoms temporarily (6). Prefer sugar-free products because sugar promotes the development of dental cavities.
3. Chew Some Gum
If you are not a fan of sucking on mints or candies, you can chew some gum instead, because it helps stimulate the flow of saliva as well. Increased saliva production will temporarily prevent your dry mouth symptoms. The only disadvantage is that the sugar in gum can lead to tooth decay, so prefer sugar free varieties – especially the ones sweetened with sorbitol.
4. Consume Soft and Moist Foods
These kinds of foods will require less chewing. Also, they are more comfortable to swallow than dry, crunchy, or chewy foods such as meats and crusty breads. Soft and moist foods include:
- Mashed vegetables
- Canned fruit
- Casseroles made with a broth or sauce base
- Soups and stews
- Fruit and vegetable smoothies
- Soft cooked meats such as boiled chicken
5. Chew Some Cardamoms
- Chew some cardamom thoroughly after every meal or whenever you feel your mouth is dry.
6. Use Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper is one of the best home remedies for dry mouth because it increases saliva production (8). Moreover, it helps enhance the taste buds so you can distinguish sour, sweet, salty and bitter flavors better.
- Take a little bit of ground cayenne pepper by using your finger, and then rub it around your tongue. Although this can lead to a burning sensation for some time, it will stimulate your salivary glands.
- Alternatively, you can just sprinkle cayenne pepper powder in your soups, salads and other foods.
7. Drink Aloe Vera Juice
Aloe vera is an old remedy to cure dry mouth. Plus, it helps support the taste buds and protects the sensitive tissue in the mouth.
- Drink quarter cup of Aloe vera juice daily to treat dry mouth.
- You can also wash your mouth with Aloe vera juice several times a day.
8. Eat Fennel Seeds
Fennel seeds contain flavonoids which activate the production of saliva. Moreover, their aromatic flavor helps prevent bad breath which accompanies dry mouth. Try to eat fennel seeds a few times a day to get rid of dry mouth.
9. Drink Lemon Juice
Lemon juice can increase saliva production and help treat dry mouth (9). Because of its acidic nature, it can also help cleanse your mouth and eliminate bad breath.
- Add the juice of half a lemon and a little bit honey to a glass of water. Sip this water throughout the day to stay hydrated.
- You can also sprinkle a pinch of salt on a small piece of lemon. Then, rub it on your tongue to stimulate salvia production.
10. Eat Ginger
Using ginger is also a great way to get rid of dry mouth. It seems to be very effective in increasing saliva production and can make your mouth feel fresh longer (10).
- Chew a thin slice of fresh ginger slowly. Do this a few times a day to get rid of dry mouth symptoms.
- You can also prepare a ginger tea and drink 2-3 cups of this tea daily to stimulate your salivary glands. Add some honey to make this remedy more effective.
11. Use Over-the-Counter Saliva Substitutes
Various sprays and other products can be found in many stores and pharmacies. If you suffer from dry mouth, these products can provide you with an artificial saliva substitute. Be sure to buy one that contains xylitol, carboxymethylcellulose, or hydroxyethyl cellulose (11).
Additional Tips to Get Rid of Dry Mouth
- Do not smoke and chew tobacco because it prevents saliva production.
- Get a humidifier and sleep in a room with a humidifier or vaporizer to keep your mouth moist all night long.
- Do not breathe through your mouth, breathe through your nose.
- Diuretics, antihistamines and decongestants can lead to a dry mouth so if you have options then avoid taking these medications.
- In addition to brushing and flossing your teeth, do not forget to clean your tongue every day. Prefer toothpaste and mouth rinse which contains fluoride. Also, you should stay away from toothpastes that contain sodium lauryl sulfate because it has a drying effect on your mouth.
- Sip water while eating and chew your food thoroughly before swallowing. Rinse your mouth with warm water after eating a meal.
- Limit your consumption of spicy and acidic foods because they can irritate your mouth. Also, they may interfere with saliva production. Also try to stay away from sugary foods and beverages because they may increase the risk of tooth decay and dry mouth.
- Try to consume snacks which have high water content. For instance, celery sticks or cucumber activate the saliva glands and add moisture to your mouth.
- Prefer using alcohol-free mouthwash instead of using mouthwash that contains alcohol or peroxide, because this may lead to over drying of your mouth. Also, try to use mouthwashes that contain xylitol or fluoride, because fluoride will strengthen your teeth, and xylitol will help you get rid of dry mouth.
- Drink water or sugarless drinks more often.
- Do not drink coffee and other drinks containing caffeine because caffeine can dry out your mouth.
- Do not consume salty and dry foods such as cookies, crackers, toasts, and dry bread.
- Limit your alcohol consumption.
These home remedies and tips can help stimulate the secretion of saliva especially when they are used in combination.
When to See Your Doctor
You should see a doctor or a dentist, if your dry mouth is prolonged and given remedies have not worked at all. Also, you should consider to seeing your doctor immediately, if you suffer from accompanying symptoms such as dry eyes, memory loss, or snoring.