Fight Dry Mouth This Summer & Rest of Year Too

In an earlier blog post, we talked about oral care best practices for the summer. One of them was to stay hydrated. If you don’t replenish liquid lost to perspiration, it can affect your body in many ways – including drying out your mouth. Since you sweat more in the summer, you’re more likely to experience this. But it can be a problem all year – and you need to fight dry mouth to keep your mouth healthy. 

Why is dry mouth such a big deal? Well, it’s uncomfortable, which is bad enough. But it hurts your oral health too. Saliva helps rinse away the bacteria and food debris that cause cavities and gum disease. So without enough saliva, you are more prone to suffer from these problems. Saliva also contains minerals like bicarbonate, calcium, and phosphate, all of which help fight decay. 

Perhaps the single most important thing you can do to defeat dry mouth is to drink more water. The amount of water you need depends on several factors, including your weight, the weather, and your overall health. One good indicator of whether you are getting enough water is the color of your urine. If it’s pale yellow, that’s great. A darker yellow color is an indicator you need to drink more water. 

Are You Drinking Enough Water?

The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men and 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) for women. That sounds like a lot – but part of that amount can come from food and drinks other than plain H2O. Still, plain water is the best choice for your oral health and overall health. And most of us need to consume more of it.

Fortunately, there are lots of good ways to get more water into your daily routine:

  • Always Keep Water Around – One of the easiest ways to drink more water is to always have it handy. Keep water in spots like your car, next to your bed, and on your desk at work or school. That way, you can grab it any time you feel thirsty. 
  • Dilute Other Drinks – Water is much better for you than drinks like tea or lemonade. But if you’re like most folks, you want a bit of variety in your beverages. Diluting those drinks with water or even just adding lots of ice can help you increase your water intake. 
  • Drink Water With Meals – Make water part of your routine at mealtime. The good news is, it offers added benefits. If you’re eating at a restaurant, drinking water instead of another beverage will save you money. If you start your meal with a glass of water before eating, it may help you feel full sooner. So you’ll consume fewer calories and potentially lose weight. 

Lifestyle Changes Can Help Fight Dry Mouth

There are other things you can do to fight dry mouth. Since many common medications can contribute to the problem, it’s a good idea to review your meds with your doctor. They may be able to recommend substitutes that don’t have the same drying effect. In addition, you can try these lifestyle changes:

  • Check Chlorine Levels – If you’re a swimmer, check the chlorine levels of the pool. Chlorine doesn’t just dry out your skin and hair. It dries out your mouth too. A pH level of about 7.5 keeps water clean but won’t dry out your mouth. Lower your level if it’s higher than that. 
  • Eat Fresh Fruits and Veggies – As noted above, you can get part of your daily water intake from food. Fresh fruits and vegetables are an especially good choice, as they provide plenty of other health benefits. 
  • Cut the Amount of Caffeine You Consume – Caffeine is a diuretic. So try to consume as little of it as possible. Choose caffeine-free versions of coffee, tea, and soda. 
  • Change Your Mouthwash – If you’re using a mouthwash with alcohol, it will dry out your mouth. Switch to one without alcohol. The best option is one that contains xylitol, a substance that naturally increases saliva production. 
  • Keep Air Moist Overnight – Running a humidifier while you sleep adds moisture to the air. 
  • Suck On Hard Candy – Sucking on mints or other candy helps stimulate saliva production. Chewing sugar-free gum has the same effect. Xylitol is an increasingly common ingredient and has natural cavity-fighting properties. So look for options that contain xylitol. 

Dr. Kaady can also suggest special products that will lessen your discomfort and encourage saliva flow. If you are susceptible to dry mouth, it’s important to see us regularly for exams and cleanings. 

If you need to schedule your next checkup in our Portland, OR office, call Bridgetown Dental at 503-809-4742 today. You can also schedule online. Let us help you fight dry mouth!