A dry mouth is one of those things that might not sound like a huge issue until it starts affecting you.
Dry mouths actually cause a lot more problems than you might expect and can be rather unpleasant to live with. For one, a dry mouth will often lead to bad breath. Dry mouths are caused by a lack of saliva and saliva is – among other things – responsible for killing off the bacteria in our mouths. In short, if you aren’t salivating, then the bacteria can thrive and you may find that you start to smell as a result!
Dry mouths can also make it difficult to eat, they can cause you to get ulcers, sores and other painful patches in your mouth. They’re bad for your teeth. And they can make you stumble over your words when you try to speak! And trying to get to sleep with a dry mouth is just no fun either.
1. Drink More
One of the easiest ways to improve the symptoms of a dry mouth is simply to drink more. Drinking more water is ideal, but anything will be considered as better than nothing. So, drink more juice, drink more milk… heck drink more soda drinks!
This will then provide your body with more of the fluids that it needs in order to produce salvia, thus helping you to keep your mouth nicely moist.
There are other benefits to drinking more water etc. too. For example, when you get dehydrated, it can cause headaches, poor mood, muscle cramps, impaired cognitive performance, worse sleep, and much more. In other words, then, getting more water in your diet will improve every aspect of your physical and mental health! And the big issue here is that the vast majority of the population is actually dehydrated, most of the time.
2. Have Some Lemon Water
Another quick fix is to have some lemon water. This helps in a number of different reasons. For one, it helps to make drinking more water more palatable. Many people find that when they drink large amounts of water, they actually find it pretty plain and boring and even that it struggles to go down as a result!
This is why a lot of people actually recommend adding just a dash of lemon to their water in order to help them drink more. And not only will this help a lot, but it can also improve their ability to produce more saliva because it has been shown to stimulate saliva production.
There are more benefits too – the inclusion of vitamin C will help you to relax and we’ll see the benefits of doing that in just a moment.
3. Cool Down
Another way to help yourself fight a dry mouth is just to cool down. Unsurprisingly perhaps, one of the most common reasons that we get dehydrated is that we are simply too hot! When we’re hot, our bodies have to try and cool us down. They do this by perspiring so that the water on the surface of our skin will ‘steal’ our body heat in order to evaporate.
In short, you quickly find yourself drying out – and you might find that no matter how much you’re drinking, it isn’t really enough to help!
So, what do you do? Well, one obvious answer is just to try and cool down again. That might mean getting into the shade, getting into an air-conditioned room, or just stopping the heavy exertion.
4. Hold Water/Ice in Your Mouth
A big mistake when we’re very thirsty is often to ‘gulp’ down water as fast as possible in order to try and rehydrate. Doing this will just cause you to fill your stomach. While it will help you to rehydrate, it’s not going to help to wet your mouth.
So instead, try holding water in your mouth for a while. This will naturally make it less dry instantly (for obvious reasons!) but it will also help you to drink it much more slowly and to absorb it much more slowly. This is actually a very good strategy for anyone going on a very long run or walk-in hot weather. It will help you to get more benefit from the water over an extended period.
Better yet, why not try holding a little ice in your water? This will help to hydrate you as the ice will melt and thus provide more hydration. At the same time though, it will also help to cool you down – once again for obvious reasons.
5. Change Your Courses of Medication
A large number of different medications can actually cause you to get a dry mouth as one of the symptoms and it might just surprise you which of these can be responsible. Anything that alters your hormone balance, for instance, can cause a dry mouth. These include the likes of oral contraceptives in some cases.
Likewise, a medication called ‘modafinil’ that is used to treat narcolepsy (a condition that causes patients to fall asleep instantly and without warning) can also cause a dry mouth among other symptoms. So, if the dry mouth is a new thing, if it is persistent, and if you’ve started any new course of meds recently, then take a look at the list of symptoms on the packaging and ask your GP about it. You might find that there’s an alternative you can switch to and your problem will then be gone!
6. Eat More
Drinking more is an obvious way to get rid of a dry mouth. But what might come as more of a surprise is that eating more can also address the same problem. The reason for this is that food actually contains moisture – and it actually contains a large proportion of all the moisture you get in a day! This is more true for some foods than others too – oranges, lemons, grapes, etc. of course have more liquid than crisps. But actually all foods will be likely to contain some liquid.
This is something that a lot of people notice when they try intermittent fasting. While it has many benefits, it can actually lead to dehydration and cause a dry mouth. Keep an eye on that!
7. Get More Sleep
There are many unwanted side effects that come from poor sleep. One of them is dehydration and a dry mouth. This is because saliva production is linked to our body clocks, as well as our stress levels. If you aren’t sleeping properly then you will wake up in a state that will make your body feel as though it should still be asleep. You’ll thus wake up with a headache, with low energy, with grogginess… and potentially a very dry mouth.
This is even worse first thing in the morning if you wake out of a deep sleep. Waking out of deep sleep causes something called ‘sleep inertia’. That’s the jolt of going straight from unconscious, to awake and active. If you have this problem often, then an easy solution that you can try is to use a smartwatch or fitness tracker that will help you to monitor your sleep and can actually be set to wake you only out of light sleep – at the point when you would have been more likely to wake naturally.
8. Avoid Caffeine
Caffeine can actually cause a dry mouth for a number of reasons. Not only is it a diuretic (meaning that it will cause you to go to the toilet a lot and lose a lot of moisture and fluids that way) but it is also a stressor. Caffeine triggers the release of cortisol, of dopamine, of adrenaline, and of many more chemicals that get you ready for fight or flight.
This then causes the mouth to dry out as your liquids are sent to the brain and muscles where they are most needed. This combination all means that relaxing with a cup of coffee or tea doesn’t make a lot of sense. And rehydrating with the same makes even less sense!
Have you ever noticed how you might be standing in front of a crowd about to give a speech, to suddenly find your mouth drying out? Now you can’t get your words out properly, you panic, you get a headache, and essentially you ‘choke’.
The problem is that, as mentioned earlier, stress causes your mouth to dry out as your body sends all of its resources to other parts of the body. Meditation is the tool that you can use in order to combat this. Meditation will let you achieve a sense of calm and focus and will teach you how to overcome your moments of panic. This can also go hand in hand with CBT and other techniques designed to help fight stress.
10. Close Your Mouth!
One of the most common reasons for a dry mouth is breathing with your mouth open. When we breathe with our mouth open, this can cause the mouth to get dried out quickly – and it’s another reason that we often feel this way when we’ve been exercising. At the same time, this is also a common reason that we wake up in the mornings with a very dry mouth.
To minimize the problem then, try keeping your mouth closed whenever possible. This also actually has a large number of additional benefits, such as helping to clean the air as it comes in and helping to lower levels of stress. We are designed to breathe through our noses, and if we do this, it actually leads to a visibly more attractive jawline! If you struggle to keep your mouth closed during the night, then you can even try taping it shut with a little microporous tape!