Help with dry mouth
When the mouth is dry and saliva does not flow properly, this results in a very unpleasant feeling in the mouth. The tongue feels as if it is stuck to the roof of the mouth and speaking turns out to be difficult. There can be many reasons for dry mouth, from harmless situations such as tension to illnesses of various kinds. If dry mouth occurs more frequently for no apparent reason, this reason should be found in order to counteract the problem.
Saliva is important for the oral flora. In a healthy person, numerous large and small salivary glands produce about 0.5 to 1.5 liters of saliva, which keep the oral cavity moist. Saliva not only helps remove food debris, it also dilutes harmful acid that can lead to tooth decay and other bacterial diseases. If there is not enough saliva, bacteria can feed more easily and thus spread more quickly, attacking both the teeth and the oral cavity.
Causes of dry mouth
Dry mouth can have different causes and occurs in everyone from time to time. Often the causes are completely harmless, but different diseases can also form the basis for dry mouth.
As a rule, many people breathe mainly through the nose. However, if one has a cold or suffers from excitement and stress, then mouth breathing is also used. In this, dry air is drawn in, which causes the moisture in the mouth to dry out.
To keep the general body functions going, it is recommended to drink at least 1.5 liters per day.¹ If one does not do this, it can have different health consequences. Dry mouth is also one of them, because it is important for saliva production to provide the necessary fluid intake.
Dry or dusty air in particular causes the oral cavity to dry out. Heat also causes the body – and the mouth – to lose fluid.
As the body breaks down alcohol, dry mouth and excessive thirst, colloquially called “burn,” often occur. This is because alcohol is a cytotoxin and has a dehydrating effect, drawing fluid from the body. Fluid is also needed to break down the cell toxin, so there can be an increased fluid deficit from alcohol consumption.
Nicotine has a vasoconstrictor effect. This inhibits blood flow, which also reduces saliva production. Furthermore, smoke particles adhere to the oral mucosa, which also dries out the oral mucosa.
Dry mouth at night
During sleep, saliva production naturally decreases, which can lead to a dry mouth in the morning. If one also suffers from snoring, this promotes dry mouth. Drying mouth breathing is usually used in this case.
Some medications affect saliva production because they affect the autonomic nervous system responsible for it. Typical medications that can lead to dry mouth include antidepressants or painkillers from the opioid group. Some sleeping pills and tranquilizers can also cause this effect.
Consequence of certain diseases
Dry mouth can be the result of various diseases, although these do not necessarily affect the mouth and throat, although, for example, sinusitis, oral mucosa inflammation or dental diseases can result in dry mouth. Other examples of diseases that can be associated with dry mouth are the autoimmune disease Sjögren’s syndrome, metabolic disorders, hormonal diseases and diseases of the salivary gland.
Nutrition for dry mouth
Nutrition in the broadest sense plays an important role in dry mouth, because nutrition also includes the intake of fluids.
Intensive chewing stimulates saliva production
Furthermore, food that needs to be chewed intensively additionally stimulates saliva, so that a dry mouth is counteracted.
Chewing gum between meals
If you also want to stimulate saliva production between meals, sugar-free chewing gum is recommended. They don’t damage teeth like sugary products, and studies have shown that they actually prevent tooth decay.² Chewing also stimulates saliva production, so you benefit from sugar-free gum in more ways than one.
Foods that promote saliva flow
- Water-containing foods such as fruit, liquid dairy products and soups
- dishes with sauces
- acidic teas such as rosehip tea and mallow
- sugar-free lozenges
Foods that promote dry mouth
On the other hand, you should avoid foods that cause irritation of the mucous membranes of the mouth and deprive them of moisture. These are above all:
- particularly spicy and strongly seasoned dishes
- Coffee and alcohol
Treating dry mouth
Since there are different reasons why you might suffer from dry mouth, the first thing to observe is when this dry mouth occurs.
Dry mouth in the morning does not need treatment – The dry feeling in the morning after getting up is normal and usually does not require any special treatment.
Go to the doctor for prolonged & unspecific dryness. However, if you notice that dry mouth occurs frequently and seemingly without reason, you should consult a doctor. He or she will be able to determine the main cause, the treatment of which will also improve the dry mouth as a result.
Dry Mouth Treatment Products
If the dry mouth cannot be treated with the intake of fluids, there are various preparations available that stimulate saliva production:
Hyaluronic acid is especially popular in the anti-aging field because it has excellent water-binding properties and is moisturizing. However, hyaluronic acid is also used in gels, sprays, rinses and toothpastes as an aid against dry mouth.
This active ingredient is often presented in the form of a lozenge, but is also found in chewing gum. Xylitol serves to improve the oral flora and protects it from bacteria and thus from caries.
Lactoferrin is a protein that occurs naturally in saliva and has an antimicrobial effect. To stimulate the flow of saliva in dry mouth, medicines containing this ingredient are effective.
Herbal remedy for dry mouth
The best home remedy for dry mouth is drinking water. Hydration can quickly and effectively counteract a dry mouth. In addition, you can resort to the following home remedies:
Water with lemon juice: this further stimulates salivation due to the acid it contains.
Frozen pineapple chunks: Pineapple contains saliva stimulating enzymes, the frozen state is also additional saliva forming.
Chewing herbs: chamomile, sage and peppermint provide a fresh feeling in the mouth, increasing moisture. The same goes for toothpastes and mouthwashes that contain these herbs.
Consequences of not treating
Saliva contains fluoride and calcium, which is important to counteract harmful acidity from food intake in the mouth. However, if saliva flow is low, there is an increased risk of tooth decay, as bacteria can feed much more easily. Other diseases of the mouth and throat based on bacteria or fungi can also develop more easily if not enough saliva is produced.
Dry mouth in old age
As we age, various bodily functions decrease or slow down. Saliva production is also affected by this. In addition, some elderly people tend to drink too little fluid, which also negatively affects saliva production, causing many elderly people to suffer from dry mouth. Due to the already reduced salivary flow, it is accordingly all the more important to consume sufficient water.
Tips for prevention
As simple as it sounds, it is important to drink enough water. It is especially important to rebalance the water balance after exercising, during which fluids are lost through sweating.
Ensure adequate oral and dental hygiene
Furthermore, you can prevent dry mouth by ensuring adequate oral and dental hygiene and avoiding a dry climate in the home. Using fresh scented oils (lemon, orange) also helps stimulate saliva flow and prevent dry mouth. Quitting smoking is also a tip that is helpful not only in terms of dry mouth.