Dry Mouth and Cavities
When someone has dry mouth or xerostomia, there is a reduced flow of saliva. Dry mouth can be caused by medications such as antihistamines, high blood pressure meds, anxiety or antidepressants, mouth breathing, use of CPAP devices, radiation to the head/neck or conditions like Sjogren's syndrome. Dry mouth can be uncomfortable and cause damage to our teeth and health. It can also cause bad breath, cavities, gum disease, or sores. See your doctor to discover if there could be underlying health issues such as Sjorgren's syndrome that could be potentially causing dry mouth especially if it causing extreme discomfort.
One very important property of saliva is buffering or neutralizing acids. Another important property is the flushing characteristic. With a lack of saliva, acids or acidic materials like plaque or food are allowed to sit on the teeth and can cause tooth decay. This is why patients with dry mouth have a higher risk of developing cavities. If saliva doesn't flush or neutralize acidic materials away, it can remain on our teeth breaking away minerals in a process called demineralization. If enough tooth structure is destroyed it leads to softening and eventual holes in the teeth called cavities. One major way to reduce the potential damage is by having good dental hygiene habits with proper techniques. If there is a lack of materials such as plaque sitting against the teeth and under the gums they have less chance of breeding bacteria and causing damage.
While it may not be possible to completely eliminate the causes of dry mouth but there are remedies to soothe and moisturize the mouth.
What are some natural dry mouth remedies?
- Baking soda rinses after meals. This helps neutralizes acids that are activated by the digestive process that begins in our mouth. It can also neutralize acidic foods or drinks that we consume. You can carry a small container with a premixed solution when you're on the go.
*** Mix 1 cup of warm water and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Swish for 3-5 seconds, spit out and rinse well with water.
- Drink plenty of water. Sipping throughout the day is shown to be more effective at absorption than large quantities that are consumed infrequently.
- Reduce sugar, alcohol, smoking, coffee or tea. All of these are shown to increase dehydration.
- See your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. Follow professional recommendations such as more frequent cleanings (every 3 or 4 months instead of 6 months)
- Use the power of your mind: Close your eyes and IMAGINE biting into a sour lemon or cherry. You don't actually have to eat these things. Thinking of it can actually activate your salivary glands to produce saliva when feeling parched.
- Oil pulling. Swirl a tablespoon of cold pressed, unrefined, organic coconut oil in your mouth for 10-15 mins and discard into the trash when done. Do not swallow the oil.
- Acupuncture or other energy healing modalities.