Dry mouth, also called xerostomia, occurs when you have an inadequate flow of saliva. The condition affects up to 20 percent of the general adult population, per the American Dental Association (ADA), and nearly half of the elderly. Your dentist can offer professional treatments to manage your symptoms, as well as certain fluoride toothpastes, soft-bristled toothbrushes and alcohol-free mouthwashes that, when used correctly, can be the perfect dry mouth products for your condition.
Symptoms of Dry Mouth
Dry mouth can lead to a wide range of symptoms, as observed by Mouthhealthy.org. If you’re suffering, you may notice some or all of the following:
- An uncomfortably dry sensation
- Increased thirst (often in the middle of the night)
- Cracked lips
- Sore or hoarse throat
- Difficulty chewing and swallowing
- Sores inside your mouth
Oral Health Complications
Saliva helps to keep your mouth clean by washing bacteria and food off of your teeth and tongue constantly throughout the day. This natural defense is no substitute for brushing and flossing, but it helps to prevent the buildup of plaque in between these oral hygiene sessions. When you have dry mouth, plaque and bacteria can accumulate along your gumline quickly, which leads to oral health complications like cavities and periodontal disease.
Fortunately, adding the appropriate dry mouth products to your daily oral hygiene routine will help you manage the symptoms of dry mouth and stave off complications in the process. Here are three products you may find helpful.
1. Fluoride Toothpaste
Due to the higher risk of tooth decay that accompanies dry mouth, make sure you’re using a toothpaste that contains fluoride. A mineral that is naturally present in the Earth’s crust, fluoride is your first line of defense in the fight against tooth decay.
Fluoride is able to harden the enamel that covers the outsides of your teeth, which helps to prevent cavities from forming as a result. This ultimately keeps the calcium and phosphorous within your enamel from dissolving in response to the acids that come in contact with your teeth after various meals. It can even add more calcium and phosphorous to your enamel to keep it strong.
2. Soft-Bristled Toothbrushes
Because dry mouth leads to oral discomfort and mouth sores within the soft tissue, you need to choose a toothbrush that won’t aggravate your condition. Instead of using a hard-bristled toothbrush, switch to a gentle, soft-bristled product. Softer bristles allow you to clean your teeth and gums without causing pain to your already irritated tissues. They’re usually slimmer as well, allowing you to access grooves between your teeth and gums you may not have been cleaning before.
Some soft-bristled toothbrushes are specifically designed to offer relief to sensitive gums. If you are experiencing mouth sores or gum discomfort, though, don’t rely on just your toothbrush; make sure to also see your dentist for professional treatment.
3. Alcohol-Free Mouthwash
Alcohol is a common ingredient in most publicly available mouthwashes. Added in mouthwash to help kill bacteria as you swish, it’s actually responsible for the burning, tingling sensation that some people enjoy. However, alcohol tends to increase oral dryness too, so if you suffer from dry mouth, you should avoid it.
Many alcohol-free mouthwashes are out there, and despite the absence of this ingredient, they’re still effective at killing germs and reducing plaque. Nonetheless, it’s important to remember that mouthwash, such as the alcohol-free Colgate® Enamel Health™ Mouthwash, is ideally a supplement for a good brushing and flossing routine.
If your mouth is uncomfortably dry, see your dentist for an oral examination. He or she may recommend incorporating dry mouth products into your routine if you are indeed suffering from this common problem.