Two Natural Ways To Deal With Xerostomia
Xerostomia is a condition where the saliva glands don’t produce enough moisture, resulting in chronic dry mouth. The condition is often caused by medication, but can also be the result of an underlying disease (e.g. diabetes, cancer) or trauma to the salivary ducts. Depending on the cause of the condition, treatment may involve the use of medication or surgery. If you would rather avoid these options, here are two natural ways to handle xerostomia.
Stimulate Saliva Production with Sour Foods
One simple and natural way to alleviate chronic dry mouth is to stimulate saliva production by consuming sour foods. Sour foods activate the salivary glands, causing spit to pour into the mouth to deal with the tart taste of the food. Out of all the different tastes (e.g. sweet, salty, sour, and bitter), the sour taste produces the most saliva. Therefore, consuming foods in this group—such as sugar-free lemon candy, grapefruit, limes, and cranberries—can help alleviate dry mouth.
Be careful, though, as many sour foods are also acidic. The acid can wear away tooth enamel, especially if you brush your teeth right after consuming the food. It’s a good idea to alternate between sour and non-sour foods (e.g. ice cubes, sugar-free gum) to minimize the damage and break up the monotony.
Avoid Bad Habits and Products that Cause Dry Mouth
The other natural thing you can do is avoid bad habits and stop consuming products that contribute to xerostomia. Smoking—both cigarettes and marijuana—dry out oral tissues, aggravating the problem. This is due to both the heat and the smoke itself.
Alcohol also has a dehydrating effect on the body, which is often why your mouth feels like you’ve been chewing on cotton balls after you’ve downed a few drinks. Reducing consumption of these items or eliminating them from your routine altogether can help naturally improve saliva production in your mouth.
Other things you may want to consider avoiding include:
- Drinking caffeinated beverages such as coffee or soda (caffeine has a dehydrating effect)
- Consuming salty foods
- Using mouthwash that contains alcohol
- Eating dry foods, such as popcorn, alone (consume with water or other liquid and rinse your mouth thoroughly afterwards)
It may be difficult giving up your favorite foods and making certain lifestyle changes, but preventing the damage that xerostomia can do to teeth and gums is worth making the effort. For more information about this condition or tips on promoting good saliva production, contact a general dentist.