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Dry Mouth: Simple Changes Can Make a Big Difference

Portrait of a stylishly dressed young Asian man smiling and taking a selfie while standing alone in front of a gray wall outside

Dry mouth is a pretty common experience for people who might be nervous about an upcoming job interview or an important speech they need to give. While it’s normal to occasionally have dry mouth, make sure you talk to your dentist about it if you notice that your mouth often feels like it isn’t wet. Having dry mouth can increase your chance of developing tooth decay. It can also lead to serious health problems or be a sign that you have an underlying health concern.

What causes dry mouth?

Dry mouth can be a side effect of medication, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or it can be caused by diseases that affect your salivary glands. Diabetes, HIV/AIDS and Sjögren’s syndrome can all cause dry mouth, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Sometimes an injury to the head or neck can affect the nerves that control the salivary glands.

What are dry mouth symptoms?

Dry mouth symptoms often vary by person. You might notice a sticky or dry feeling in your mouth. You could also have trouble speaking, chewing and swallowing. Some people experience a burning sensation in their mouth. Others have a dry feeling, cracking lips, a dry tongue and mouth sores. An infection in the mouth is another sign.

Avoid dry mouth by making smart choices.

Fortunately, you can take simple measures at home to help combat dry mouth. Here are seven tips to help prevent dry mouth.

  • Drink water often. Keep a water bottle within reach to make it easy to keep sipping. If you don’t like to drink water, try
    unsweetened herbal iced tea. Look for flavors that appeal to your taste buds without adding sugar.
  • Give up your morning coffee. Skip the afternoon jolt of caffeine, too. Caffeine dries out the mouth. Check your drink labels to make sure your beverages are caffeine free.
  • Sip water whenever you eat. Drinking water at meals makes chewing and swallowing easier to do if you have dry mouth.
  • Stimulate your saliva flow by chewing sugarless gum. Look for cinnamon and mint flavors. If you chew sugarless gum with xylitol, it may help prevent cavities.
  • Quit smoking and abstain from alcohol. Both habits can dry out your mouth.
  • Steer clear of spicy and salty foods. If you have dry mouth, spicy and salty foods may hurt when you eat them.
  • Run a humidifier at night in your bedroom. By adding moisture to the air, your mouth may not feel as dry when you wake up in the morning.

Remember to talk to your dentist about dry mouth if the condition persists. Your dentist may prescribe medication that helps your salivary glands work better. Some patients have great success using artificial saliva.

Is it time for your dental checkup? Request a dental appointment at Konikoff Dentistry online or by calling 1-800-SMILE-23. Konikoff Dentistry has eight convenient locations with three offices in Chesapeake, one in Suffolk and four in Virginia Beach.

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