If so, you are not alone. Over 25 million North Americans suffer from dry mouth. And it’s not just the discomfort of dry mouth (called “xerostomia” by dentists) that is the problem; it is often accompanied by trouble chewing and swallowing, difficulty in speaking, a rise in dental cavities and gum disease, and most noticeably to some, bad breath. If people act like there is a fire drill taking place every time you open your mouth, this could be the culprit!
So why do so many of us have what is often referred to as “cottonmouth?”
According to The Food and Drug Administration, over 400 medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, can lead to dry mouth. It’s also caused by mouth breathing, dehydration (drink your water!!), and lack of salivary flow due to aging. In rare instances, dry mouth may be caused by an underlying serious disease – so it is not something to take lightly.
Of course our good old friends (actually enemies) – excessive alcohol consumption and smoking are among the leading causes of this problem, so if you need another reason to put away the cigarettes for good and cut down on alcohol use, now is a great time!
There are several things you can do to help reduce the symptoms of dry mouth, including:
- Chewing a sugar-free gum containing Xylitol
- Drinking plenty of water
- Breathing through your nose instead of your mouth (easier said than done!)
- Frequent brushing and rinsing with a fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinse
- Using a room vaporizer to humidify the air in your home
- Using an over-the-counter saliva substitute