The summer months are known for ‘drying’ – an increase in dry weather (even in the UK!) and hanging out clothes on the line to dry is something we often look forward to. The warmer weather however, can also cause some of us to become dehydrated, which can also include your mouth and teeth.
Dry mouth increases your risk of developing tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath (halitosis). It is very unpleasant and can seriously impact your overall quality of life, affect speaking, taste, chewing and swallowing. These, in turn, affect nutrition and potentially your general and oral health.
Everyone’s mouth gets dry mouth on occasion, for example, if you are dehydrated or nervous. Many people notice their mouth is dry in the morning when they wake up. This can be related to ‘morning bad breath’, which is quite normal and disappears rapidly when saliva is produced as you ‘get going’- eating, drinking and speaking. It can be more noticeable if you breathe through your mouth rather than your nose, especially at night. Drinking alcohol will also dehydrate and increase oral dryness. If you use CPAP or oxygen therapy this will also cause dry mouth.
In order to relieve or prevent dry mouth, it is important to stay well hydrated – sip water or sugar-free, drinks throughout the day or even suck on ice chips. It is advised to avoid irritants such as alcohol, caffeine and tobacco as well as salty or spicy foods. Chewing sugar free chewing gum or sucking sugar free sweets helps to stimulate saliva flow which therefore, reduces dryness in your mouth. You could even consider using a humidifier at night if your mouth is particularly dry when you wake up in the morning.
There are also products available which are specifically for relief of dry mouth, for example, artificial saliva substitutes, mouth gels and toothpastes. Growing Smiles has range of products for dry mouth here – Xylimelts are one of the most popular in the range.
Hopefully these tips will help with keeping your mouth well hydrated, but do bear in mind that a continually dry mouth could be an indication of an underlying health problem so talk to your dental team or GP if you have any concerns.