You're probably familiar with the main ways to prevent cavities: brush your teeth and floss, eat less sugar, and see your dentist for regular cleaning appointments. But there's another way you can decrease your risk of tooth decay. Keeping your mouth moist throughout the day is a great way to keep your tooth enamel in great shape. Here's a closer look.
Why is a moist mouth less cavity-prone?
Cavities are caused by oral bacteria. They feed on sugar and release acids, which eat away at your tooth enamel, forming cavities. The more oral bacteria you have lingering in your mouth, the more cavities you'll develop. Keeping your mouth moist results in more swallowing. When you swallow, you do away with some of the oral bacteria, keeping them at bay. Plus, the presence of more moisture in your mouth helps keep the acids more dilute so they don't cause as much damage.
How can you keep your mouth moist?
There are a few ways to keep your mouth more moist throughout the day. Start by drinking more water. Not only does this increase your saliva production, which helps rinse away oral bacteria, but the water itself helps rinse away sugars and acids. Sipping water slowly throughout the day is better than drinking large quantities a few times per day.
You can also keep your mouth more moist by breathing through your nose rather than through your mouth. If you're experiencing congestion due to allergies, take allergy medications or use nasal strips to clear the congestion so you can breathe through your nose.
Another great way to keep your mouth moist is to chew sugar-free gum throughout the day. This increases saliva production.
Keep water by your bedside so that when you wake up in the middle of the night, you can take a few sips. This goes a long way towards keeping your mouth moist since most people's mouths tend to dry out when they sleep.
What should you do if your mouth seems dry?
If your mouth seems to feel dry even though you're confident you're drinking enough water, then it's important to get to the root of the issue. You may be taking a medication that causes dry mouth as a side effect; talk to your doctor or dentist about adjusting your dose or switching to another medication.
Another possibility is that you're suffering from an autoimmune condition that's affecting your salivary glands. Sjogren's syndrome is one such condition; lupus can also cause this symptom. If autoimmune conditions run in your family or you're suffering from any other symptoms, talk to your doctor or dentist about testing.