I remember a time when I would wake up every morning feeling like a just ate a bowl of cotton balls. Yuck! I had major dry mouth from pain meds. Muscle relaxants, pain, anti-seizure, sleep or antipsychotic medications all can cause dry mouth. It feels like one’s body is parched from a trip to the dessert without water. Besides its horrible sensation, dry mouth can cause sore gums, teeth sensitivity, and decreased joy and ability to eat certain foods.
Why do gums and teeth hurt from having a dry mouth?
Ongoing dry mouth creates an acidic mouth. Have you ever taken too much Vitamin C to prevent a cold only to find that at the end of the week you have sores in your mouth from the vitamin’s acidity? This is similar to what happens when your mouth is dry and acidity naturally builds. The drier your mouth, the more:
- porous and weak your teeth enamel may become
- nerves inside the teeth may become damaged and sensitive
- your gums may become “sick”
Dr. Phillips (2010) in Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye: A Do-It-Yourself Mouth Care System for Health, Clean Gums and Teeth compares the effects of an acidic, dry mouth to what happens when soaking an eggshell overnight in vinegar. It’s not pleasant. The hard, outer shell of the egg disintegrates into a soft shell that can be easily rubbed away with your fingers.
This is why it is so important to maintain healthy, alkaline saliva and mouth. Healthy saliva contain healthy minerals that:
- strengthen tooth enamel
- lubricate the teeth to prevent damage
- cleanse the teeth and gums from food build up
Besides medicine, what else can cause an acidic mouth?
1. What we put in our mouth.
- Acidic citric, fruit juices, especially when refrigerated as compared to room temperature.
- Coffee (yes, this is unfortunate)
- Beer and wine
- Tooth Whiteners
2. Hormone changes during adolescence, pregnancy, menopause, and aging
3. Illness, fever, nasal congestion, asthma, mouth breathing when sleeping
Prevention: How can we create a more alkaline, neutral mouth?
Again, by what we put in our mouth.
- Vegetable juices high in minerals.
- * Water or Water infused with more alkaline foods, such as: coconut, cucumber, watermelon, mango, raspberries.
- Broth and Alkaline soups
- Diary Products
- Xylitol, a sugar substitute found in vegetables
- Gum made from xylitol
- Coconut Oil Pulling – swishing coconut oil in your mouth for 10 minutes. The theory is it detoxifies the mouth, heals gum inflammation, prevents cavities, soothes dry throat, and naturally whitens teeth.
Other dry mouth remedies:
- ACT Total Care Dry Mouth Mouthwash
- ACT Dry Mouth Lozenges
- Alcohol Free Xylitol Mouthwash or Any other Alcohol-Free Mouthwash
- Biotene Dry Mouth Oral Rinse
- XyliMelts – oral-adhering discs that stick to your teeth or gums to relieve persistent dry mouth.
- Xylitol Moisturizing Mouth Spray
- Spry Xylitol Gum or PUR Xylitol Gum – sugar-free/Aspartame-free (Dr. Phillips states that this is a safe sugar substitute for people with diabetes) Xylitol also removes harmful bacteria that causes cavities.
- Fluoride rinse
- Toothpaste without baking soda, harsh abrasives, or teeth whitener
- Avoid breathing through your mouth, especially when sleeping at night
- Use a humidifier in the room to increase moisture in the air
- And, as always, water. It is important to stay hydrated.
Mouth Care When Brushing Teeth
Dr. Phillips recommends a 3-step process of pre-rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash (or perhaps tea tree oil, as my friend uses), use a soft-bristled toothbrush, gently brushing gums and teeth, proper toothbrush care, and a fluoride after-rinse to help decrease acidity in the mouth, and increase health of gums and teeth.
For more information, check out Better Bones’ blog for an alkaline food list and chart. You can also check out Amazon if you are interested in buying PH strips, books on Alkaline Diet, an Alkaline Food Chart, or any of the products mentioned above.
Dr. Phillips, Ellie. Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye: A Do-It-Yourself Mouth Care System for Health, Clean Gums and Teeth. Austin, TX: Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2010.
Note: I have no affiliation of any kind with the products/companies mentioned in this blog post
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