Saliva is the body’s natural way of rinsing the mouth, helping to keep teeth clean and gum tissue healthy. In fact, if your flow of saliva is inadequate, it can lead to bad breath and – even worse – an increased risk for tooth decay and gum disease. Saliva flow can be reduced for any number of reasons, including medical conditions and medication, to name just two. But whatever the reason may be for your lack of saliva, there are several effective ways to increase it.
- Drink more water. This may sound like an obvious solution, but you may be underestimating how effective water can be. Not only does it keep your mouth hydrated, it also helps to wash away excess food particles, which works to guard against tartar and plaque building up on your teeth.
- Avoid caffeine. Beverages like coffee, tea, and some sodas can make your mouth drier. In fact, sometimes consuming too much caffeine can actually be the underlying cause for your dry mouth. For that reason, you should limit your intake of caffeine, or quit it altogether if you can.
- Eat foods that increase saliva production. The next time you reach for a snack, make it one that stimulates the production of saliva. Good examples are apples, carrots, and some citrus fruits, such as pineapples and oranges. Just be cautious when it comes to citrus, since too much of it can be harmful to the enamel on your teeth.
- Sprays and rinses may help. There are several products specifically designed to alleviate symptoms of dry mouth. Sprays are handy since you can carry them with you throughout the day. Oral rinses can also be helpful, but be careful to avoid those that contain alcohol since they can worsen dry mouth.
- Chew sugar-free gum. Chewing gum helps to increase the production of saliva inside your mouth. Look for brands that are sugar-free, and preferably those that contain xylitol, which helps to fight cavities as well as encouraging saliva production.
If nothing helps to alleviate your dry mouth symptoms, talk to your dentist. If your dry mouth is caused by an underlying medical condition, or by prescribed medication, see your doctor for ideas about how to increase your flow of saliva. Remember that dry mouth is not just uncomfortable – it can also wreak havoc with your oral health.