2 Ways You Might Be Causing Dry Mouth

Posted on: 27 May 2015


If you are like most people, you might take your spit for granted. Although saliva might just seem like meaningless liquid, it can actually help to wash away food particles and germs in your mouth, mitigating tooth decay and reducing bad breath. Unfortunately, without adequate levels of saliva, you might be letting your teeth bask in dangerous bacteria. Look at this list below for two ways you might be unintentionally causing dry mouth, and how you can fend off trouble down the road:

1: Using Alcohol-Based Mouthwashes

That minty mouthwash might seem like the perfect way to polish your teeth and freshen your breath, but believe it or not, it might actually be hurting your mouth. Some alcohol based mouthwashes act as a double-edged sword. Although they can kill oral bacteria, the high alcohol content can dry out your mouth in an instant. Believe it or not, some mouthwashes contain alcohol concentrations as high as 18-26 percent—higher than you might find in some drinks at your local bar.

To top it off, these mouthwashes mask odors instead of eliminating them, which might mean that your bad breath could return before you know it. Also, since alcohol-based mouthwashes can dry out your mouth, germs can flourish, making your bad breath even worse. To fend off trouble, dentists recommend looking for therapeutic mouthwashes that contain helpful ingredients such as fluoride, which can reduce cavities, and zinc citrate, which can fend off plaque accumulation.

2: Taking Certain Prescription Medications

Unfortunately, tasty mouthwashes packed with alcohol aren't the only thing that can make your mouth as arid as the Sahara desert. If you take medications to treat certain health conditions, it can limit your saliva flow and cause dental issues. Anti-depressants, chemotherapy drugs, decongestants, and muscle relaxers are just a few of the medications that can lead to dry mouth. Fortunately, you might not have to choose between a healthy body and a happy mouth. Here are a few ways you might be able to wet your whistle, even if you have to take medications every day:

  • Chew Gum: The next time you find yourself standing in line at the grocery store, think about picking up a few packs of sugar free gum to cure your dry mouth. Although it might seem like a gimmick, chewing gum has actually been found to be incredibly effective against dry mouth. Believe it or not, chewing gum for twenty minutes can increase your saliva production by as much as ten times.
  • Focus on Healthy Hydration: Caffeine is a natural diuretic, which can dry out your body and your mouth. Also, since caffeine is a drug, it can interfere with other prescription medications—potentially causing unwanted side effects. Instead of sipping sodas, focus on healthy hydration and keep a water bottle handy.
  • Use A Humidifier: If you live in an arid environment, consider sleeping with a humidifier, which can help you to moisturize your mouth and throat throughout the night. 
  • Breathe Through Your Nose: When you breathe, focus on breathing through your nose instead of your mouth. If you have a medical condition that limits your ability to breathe with your mouth closed, such as a damaged nasal septum or severely crooked teeth, talk with your doctor about fitting you with a mouth guard to make it easier to breathe properly.

If chewing gum and drinking more water isn't enough to fend off dry mouth, your doctor might be able to alter your prescription drug dosage or supplement your dental routine with additional medications. For example, your dentist might prescribe a drug like pilocarpine to prompt saliva production, so that you can protect your teeth while you manage ongoing medical conditions.

By understanding how to keep your mouth moist, you might be able to keep your breath fresh and your teeth healthy.