Excessively dry mouth or xerostomia is a relatively common disorder with some devastating effects. Saliva is our mouth’s natural defense against tooth decay. It washes away food debris before it can form into plaque, and helps to regulate your mouth’s microbiome, keeping some particularly nasty bacteria from overpopulating your mouth. Without it, we’re 30 percent more susceptible to cavities, gum disease, and even oral cancer. Although many older Americans associate dry mouth with aging, there are several causes, including certain medications, stress, and even sleep apnea.
If you’ve been fighting dry mouth for awhile, here are three ways to protect your oral health.
Drink Plenty of Water
A recent CBS report estimated that nearly 75 percent of Americans fail to drink the recommended 10 cups of water a day, though recommended fluid intake is more complex than a single number. Dehydration affects more than your mouth. It can also impact your skin, eyes, energy levels, and even weight. So an easy way to improve your lifestyle and your smile is by drinking more water. If you find keeping track of your daily intake to be difficult, there are several apps that can track for you. If you’re the kind of person who loves to test the newest gadgets, there are several smart water bottles that connect to your cell phone, track your water-drinking statistics, and even come with LEDs that change colors when you’ve met your daily goals.
Chew Gum and Take Your Vitamins
Chewing sugar-free gum is a great way to improve your saliva flow. Just make sure to stick to sugar-free versions containing sorbitol to reduce your risk of tooth decay. Avoiding acidic beverages such as orange juice and keeping up with your vitamins can also help reduce oral complications caused by dry mouth. Vitamin C has been shown to help oral tissue repair damage to gum tissue caused by dry mouth, and B vitamins can help mouth bacteria by improving your immune system.
Don’t Forget to Brush and Floss
If you’ve been suffering from dry mouth, keeping up with your brushing and flossing becomes even more important. Brushing twice a day can help to remove food debris from forming plaque. Remember that plaque can form into tarter within 24-48 hours, so brushing before bed and at breakfast can help to keep your mouth safe throughout the day. Just make sure to use toothpaste that contains fluoride, as it is the most effective.
Even if you’re brushing twice a day, flossing is also important. That’s because brushing can’t clean the surfaces between teeth and under the gumline, which is where flossing comes in handy. Just make sure to go between every tooth, dipping between the gum line constantly.
If you haven’t seen a dentist in six months, you’re due for an appointment. Seeing a dentist for a regular check-up and cleaning can protect your mouth and body from oral complications.