Dry mouth is a common condition where the salivary glands inside your mouth don’t produce enough saliva to keep your mouth moist. In minor cases, dry mouth causes mild discomfort and can be easily ignored. In severe cases, it can affect your ability to taste, chew, and swallow food or increases your risk of tooth decay.
Causes of Dry Mouth
Dry mouth is typically not a condition that starts in a mouth but is caused by an underlying health condition such as a reaction to a medication, autoimmune disease, excess alcohol intake, smoking, or even diabetes. If you’re experiencing dry mouth and don’t know why, always seek the advice of a medical professional to get a diagnosis and answer your questions.
Common Symptoms of Dry Mouth
According to the Mayo Clinic, patients who suffer from dry mouth may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Dryness or a feeling of stickiness in your mouth
- Saliva that seems thick and stringy
- Bad breath
- Difficulty chewing, speaking, and swallowing
- Dry or sore throat and hoarseness
- Dry or grooved tongue
- A changed sense of taste
- Problems wearing dentures
The Link Between Coffee and Dry Mouth
Does coffee alone cause dry mouth? No. However, studies show caffeine can reduce or inhibit saliva production, making the effects of dry mouth worse.
Tips To Reduce Dry Mouth
If you suffer from persistent dry mouth, always seek the advice of a medical professional to understand the root cause and treatment options. In addition, there are a few adjustments you can make on your own to reduce the severity of dry mouth before and after receiving medical advice.
Reduce Your Caffeine Intake
While coffee doesn’t directly cause dry mouth, the caffeine in coffee can aggravate the symptoms. Consider cutting back on your coffee consumption or switch some of your coffee to decaf. While decaf coffee still has some amount of caffeine, it may reduce your caffeine intake enough to relieve that dry feeling.
If this tip is the right choice for you, make sure to reduce your caffeine intake gradually. Long-time regular coffee drinkers experience negative side effects when going cold turkey as your body may have built up a dependence on caffeine over years. The effects are very similar to withdrawal, including headaches and irritability, so take the gradual approach to cut back.
Drink Water Regularly
Sometimes the simplest solution is the best way. If you suffer from dry mouth but can’t kick the coffee habit, increase your water intake to give your saliva glands a helping hand.
Use Alcohol-Free Mouthwash
Proper oral hygiene includes regular mouthwash usage. Some brands of mouthwash contain alcohol to kill bacteria and give your mouth a fresh feeling. However, alcohol is an astringent and can dry up the moisture in your mouth, so choose an over-the-counter (OTC) mouthwash that’s alcohol-free or ask for a prescription mouthwash from your dentist.
Chew Sugar-Free Gum
Sugar-free gum stimulates the salivary glands to produce more saliva than they would normally. This can help ease dry mouth, and provide minty freshness to correct for that dreaded “coffee breath”.
Use a Moisturizing Mouth Spray
There are many OTC products on the market designed to give your moisture boost. These products will typically contain xylitol as the main medicinal ingredient. For severe cases of dry mouth, a dental or medical professional may offer a prescription-strength mouth spray, but make sure to take it within the prescribed dosage.
If you don’t smoke, you’re on the right path. If you do smoke, relieving dry mouth is one of many reasons to quit. The heat and smoke from smoking evaporate moisture in the mouth, making the symptoms of dry mouth worse.
Before you begin any OTC or home remedies for dry mouth, get help from a medical or dental professional. Your symptoms may be related to an underlying condition that can only be resolved after a proper diagnosis, and once your care provider puts you on a treatment plan, the tips above should help relieve your symptoms during your journey to recovery.