mouthwash for dry mouth

Dry mouth is fairly a common oral issue. Everyone experiences dry mouth at least once in a while. Treating dry mouth is essential to maintain the health of our gums and teeth.

Several dental products can help to manage dry mouth. Using an alcohol-free mouthwash is one of them.

Dry mouth occurs when there is an insufficient amount of saliva in the mouth. In such situations, an individual may experience a constant sticky and dry feeling in the mouth.

Anxiety, nervousness, and stress are some of the common factors that cause temporary dryness of the mouth. The problem arises when dry mouth becomes a chronic oral condition.

If left untreated, dry mouth interferes with chewing and swallowing. In addition to this, dry mouth creates a saliva-free environment for oral bacteria and plaque to accumulate and cause dental caries.

In this article, we will look at some of the causes of dry mouth and how alcohol-free mouthwash can aid in relieving dry mouth.

What is dry mouth?

Dry mouth is clinically referred to as Xerostomia. It occurs due to a decrease in the production of saliva in the mouth. (1)

Saliva is an essential part of our oral cavity. It contains antimicrobial properties. It flushes out the food particles from the tooth surface and neutralizes the bacterial acids to protect the teeth from dental caries.

In addition to this, saliva perpetually lubricates the oral tissues.

When a person experiences dry mouth, the amount of saliva decreases significantly leaving the mouth dry and sticky.

What causes dry mouth?

Dry mouth commonly occurs when the salivary glands don’t function properly.

A recent study shows that chronic dry mouth is prevalent among adults, especially women. Hormonal influence plays a crucial role in causing chronic xerostomia in women.

Some common causes may include –

  • Stress or anxiety
  • Certain medications, for example, anti-depressants
  • A habit of smoking and drinking alcohol
  • Cancer therapy that includes radiation and chemotherapy
  • Autoimmune disorders like Sjogren’s syndrome (2)
  • Salivary stones
  • Dehydration

Whatever the cause may be, it is essential to detect dry mouth at an early stage and treat it accordingly.

What are the symptoms associated with dry mouth?

Some of the symptoms that indicate dry mouth include –

  • Sticky and dry feeling in the mouth
  • Painful tongue
  • Difficulty in speaking
  • Difficulty in chewing and swallowing unusually dry food items like crackers or cereals
  • Lack of taste while eating
  • A constant urge to drink water especially during the night
  • Problems with denture retention in old people (3)
  • Increased incidence of denture sores and mouth sores
  • Bad breath and cracked lips

If such symptoms are not detected and treated, dry mouth can progress to cause dental caries and oral infections.

Chronic dry mouth can cause complications like enlargement of parotid glands, ulcerations on the tongue and lips.

How can alcohol-free mouthwash relieve dry mouth?

According to a recent survey, alcohol in the mouthwash acts as a drying agent. If used during dry mouth, it complicates xerostomia and makes it worse. (4)

The alcohol-free mouthwash comes handy in such situations. They are safe to use and have several benefits that can help to relieve dry mouth over time.

  • Alcohol-free mouthwash helps to kill the bacteria and germs in the mouth.
  • It effectively removes the plaque from the surface of the teeth. (5)
  • It contains fluoride which protects the teeth from tooth decay.
  • It contains a tri-polymer system which coats the oral tissues in the mouth and holds the moisture in.
  • It eliminates the problem of bad breath and flushes out the plaque and food debris from the tooth surface.

There are several brands of alcohol-free mouthwash available in the market. Look for an ADA seal as it indicates that the product is clinically approved.

You can ask your dentist to recommend a suitable mouthwash. Typically, an alcohol-free mouthwash may cost from $8 – $40.

How to use alcohol-free mouthwash?

For best results, use at least 15 ml of mouthwash. It roughly comes up to one tablespoon of mouthwash. Rinse for 30 seconds and spit it out.

You can use an alcohol-free mouthwash up to five times a day depending on your requirements. You can also use it regularly after brushing your teeth.

While using the mouthwash make sure you don’t swallow. Do not give it to children below the age of six years.

What are other treatment modalities for dry mouth?

Treatment of dry mouth depends on the cause. (6)

  • If you have a medical condition and are taking specific medicines for it, consult your physician and dentist to recommend alternative drugs
  • Review your daily routine. Quit the habit of smoking or drinking alcohol
  • Keep yourself well hydrated
  • Avoid food that is rich in sugar and carbohydrates
  • Avoid acidic food and beverages
  • Sugarless chewing gums are another way of increasing the salivary flow
  • In severe cases, your dentist may recommend the use of certain salivary substitutes to maintain the moisture in your mouth

Early detection and treatment of the cause will decrease the complications of dry mouth.

Take away message

A dry mouth can increase the incidence of oral infections, tooth decay, and digestive problems. Treating it timely is essential.

A simple step towards curing dry mouth is to include an alcohol-free mouthwash in your regular oral healthcare regime.

Alcohol-free mouthwash maintains the moisture in the mouth, protects the teeth from dental caries and increases the efficiency of chewing and swallowing.

Saliva cleans the food debris and plaque in the mouth. Its antimicrobial properties protect the teeth from decay.

Saliva provides essential minerals to strengthen the enamel. Most importantly it maintains the moisture in the mouth.