One of the first symptoms I started dealing with when I got sick was dry mouth. Dry mouth seems to be a universal symptom that many different autoimmunies deal with. It can get particularly bad for all of the sjrogies out there who have their immune system directly attacking those moisture producing glands they need to whet their whistle. No amount of water will fix the autoimmune kind of dry mouth we’re talking about here. Dry mouth can cause a whole slew of problems that make you realize you never really appreciate your spit for all it did when you had it. It can cause tooth decay, bad breath, trouble swallowing and eating, and trouble digesting. It can cause a constant choking sensation which is no fun. It interferes with the way we talk and how long we can talk and forget trying to sing when your mouth is full of cotton. So what’s an autoimmunie to do? Here are a few suggestions that have really helped whet my whistle.
- Invest in some good mints to generate saliva on the go
Therabreath Mouth Wetting Lozenges became my best friend for the first few years after my diagnoses. I’m not kidding, if you went through my things you would find at least two or three of these little puppies in everything you searched. They were in every little bag or pocket that I found during that time. Why? They actually worked. I tried the usual suggestions of sucking on hard candy and found two things. First of all, I hate hard candy. It was just gross and the sugary sweetness was the last thing I wanted in my super dry mouth. I hear some of you saying try sugar-free! Well, first of all that is still overly sweet in a dry mouth and second of all, you should all have realized by now that sugar-free usually simply means chemical crap. I refuse to put anything that is labeled sugar-free in my body. The second thing that I learned was that when I used these I actually could drool. I mean literally, drool. These bad boys would cause me to well up with a heavenly flow of saliva that let me breath without that constant choking sensation. I found that if I sucked on one or two of these for a good long while I could even sing an entire song afterward! Anyone who has really suffered from dry mouth knows that this is no small feat!
Let me just go on the record now as saying, no, I have not had any paid endorsements for saying this, nor have I received any awesomely free samples in exchange for my opinion. I gladly spent my hard-earned cash on these because they actually helped.
2. Change your oral cleaning and health routine
It is necessary to change the products that you use to maintain your pearly whites when you have a dry mouth. Many of the products that you may use have ingredients in them that will further dry out your mouth or cause painful burning. Take for example the delicious cinnamon flavored toothpaste that can have you start humming (because you can’t sing with a dry mouth) burn, burn, burn, a burning mouth of fire. Or consider the alcohol filled mouthwashes that will send you down, down, down as the flames grow higher. It is best to use a toothpaste and mouthwash that is designed for dry mouth. You can find brands such as Biotene that are designed to be gentle on sensitive, dry mouths. Therabreath also has toothpaste and mouthwash that is definitely worth checking out. Again, I found that I preferred their brand. New users to dry mouth toothpaste beware: if you are looking for that foamy, bubbly action you won’t find it in these. They are designed to be gentle and free from the sulphates that cause that soapy foam you’re use to. Both brands will be less bubbly.
If you’re ready to leap to the next level you can go natural and make your own oral health products. Wellness Mama has a excellent toothpaste recipe that I have used with great success to help restore some of the damage dry mouth has had on my teeth. By making your own toothpaste you can avoid the harmful chemicals found in store-bought brands. Remember, everything our immune system has to react to has an effect on us! Less is more.
3. Make sure your dentist is aware of your dry mouth.
You should be discussing the oral symptoms of your autoimmune disease with your dentist. They need to know that you are experiencing dry mouth when they treat you. A good dentist is aware of how autoimmune diseases affect your mouth and should be knowledgeable to help you. They can offer you special treatment as they work on your mouth by providing you with more rinsing and less of that awful suctioning. Your dentist should also understand that dry mouth does cause more tooth decay and cavities and monitor you more closely to help you combat that. If your dentist doesn’t understand find one that does.
4. Minimize your time spent in air conditioning and fans.
Any air blowing on you will dry out your mouth and eyes. Try to avoid these situations as much as you can.
5. Invest in a humidifier.
Humidifiers are great to run overnight. It will help you avoid waking up gagging from dry mouth.
6. If you are still smoking, get on board with it and quit.
This is a no brainer. It doesn’t take any witty words from me to convince you it is harming you.
7. You could try artificial saliva
Okay, I have to be honest here. I hated artificial saliva. I hated the nasty fake sweetener taste it had to it and only used it in the most necessary of circumstances. You see, I am a black belt in Tae kwon do. It’s how I get my kicks. (Did you see what I did there?) I rarely spar anymore because of health issues but back when I use to don the hogu and take my chances, I had to use a mouth guard during tournaments. The only way I could handle a mouth guard without cutting up my dry gums was to spray a bunch of artificial saliva in my mouth before putting it in. I hated the taste and would rinse my mouth out as soon as the guard was out afterward. But for those of you who don’t mind that fake sweet flavor or also need to deal with a mouth guard go for it!
8. Coconut Oil
With great dry mouths come great dry lips. I would seriously just put gobs of coconut oil on my lips constantly. I couldn’t use a true balm at first because my lips were way too sensitive and prone to cracking. I would just melt a bit of coconut oil between my fingers and keep slathering it on. Once they healed a bit I was able to use a balm. I realized that if I mixed some coconut oil with vitamin E and added a bit of melted beeswax to hold it together I could make a killer natural lip balm that would keep my lips feeling great. I would also oil pull with coconut oil in the mornings to help coat my mouth and protect my teeth from some of the harsh treatment dry mouth gives them.
9. Avoid citrus
I love the citrusy tang of limes and grapefruit but when my mouth is dry they quickly become a no-no. The burning effect of their acid will convince any dry mouther to give them a rest while symptoms are at their worst.
10. Cut back on caffeine
Seriously, I love my coffee and tea but we all know that caffeine dries us out. So put down the latte when your mouth is dry. If you absolutely have to have your caffeine boost then try diluting it a bit with water or drinking a nice cool glass of water alongside it.
These are lessons that I learned in dealing with my dry mouth and I hope these things help you as well. If you have more suggestions or thoughts please share them below!