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Natural Remedies for Xerostomia

Xerostomia is a medical term for dry mouth, a condition characterized by a lack of sufficient saliva production in the mouth. Saliva plays a crucial role in maintaining oral health and comfort, as it helps with functions such as chewing, swallowing, speaking, and preventing tooth decay. When there is an inadequate flow of saliva, it can lead to discomfort and various oral health issues.

Causes of Xerostomia
  • Medications: One of the most common causes of xerostomia is the side effects of certain medications, including antihypertensives, antihistamines, antidepressants, and diuretics.
  • Medical Conditions: Some medical conditions, such as Sjögren's syndrome, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and autoimmune diseases, can lead to reduced saliva production.
  • Radiation Therapy: Patients undergoing radiation therapy for head and neck cancers may experience damage to the salivary glands, leading to dry mouth.
  • Dehydration: Inadequate fluid intake or excessive sweating can cause temporary dry mouth.
  • Aging: As people age, they may naturally experience reduced saliva production.

Untreated xerostomia can lead to several complications, including:

  • Dental problems: The reduced saliva flow can result in an increased risk of cavities, gum disease, and fungal infections.
  • Oral discomfort: A dry mouth can cause discomfort, and difficulty in eating, speaking, and wearing dentures.
  • Nutritional issues: Chewing and swallowing difficulties may affect a person's ability to maintain a healthy diet.
  • Psychological impact: Chronic dry mouth can lead to anxiety or depression due to the discomfort and social challenges it presents.
Management and Treatment of Xerostomia

Management and treatment of xerostomia typically involve addressing the underlying cause whenever possible. Strategies to alleviate symptoms include:

Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your mouth moist. Dehydration can contribute to dry mouth, so maintaining adequate hydration is essential. Sip water regularly to prevent your mouth from drying out.

Chew Sugar-Free Gum or Suck Sugar-Free Candy: Chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free candies can stimulate saliva production. Saliva helps cleanse the mouth and maintain moisture. These products are often sweetened with xylitol, which can also help reduce the risk of cavities.

Increase Saliva-Stimulating Foods: Increasing tart or sour foods in your diet (saliva-stimulating foods) can be a natural way to help alleviate dry mouth. These foods can stimulate saliva production and provide relief from the discomfort associated with xerostomia. However, be mindful of your dental health as sour foods can erode tooth enamel. Rinse your mouth with water afterward.

  • Citrus Fruits: Citrus fruits like lemons, limes, and oranges are naturally tart and can stimulate saliva production. You can eat them fresh or add them to water for a refreshing drink.
  • Tart Berries: Berries like strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries have a slightly tart flavor that can encourage saliva production. They are also rich in antioxidants and vitamin C.
  • Grapes: Grapes, especially when they are slightly underripe, can have a tartness that stimulates saliva flow. They are a convenient and healthy snack.
  • Pineapple: Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain, which can help stimulate saliva production. It's also a delicious and nutritious option.
  • Apples: Apples have a natural tartness and are high in water content, making them a good choice for increasing saliva production. The act of chewing also helps.
  • Sour Cherries: Sour cherries have a tart flavor that can stimulate saliva. You can eat them fresh or use them in cooking and baking.
  • Pickles: Pickles, which are cucumbers soaked in a vinegar solution, have a sour and tangy taste that can stimulate saliva production. However, they are high in salt, so consume them in moderation.
  • Yogurt and Probiotic Foods: Yogurt and other probiotic foods like kefir can help maintain a healthy balance of oral bacteria, which can influence saliva production and overall oral health.
  • Cheese: Cheese, particularly hard and aged varieties, can stimulate saliva production. It also helps neutralize acids in the mouth, which is beneficial for dental health.
  • Celery: Celery has a high water content and requires a lot of chewing, which can help stimulate saliva. It also acts as a natural toothbrush, promoting oral health.
  • Ginger: Ginger, when consumed in various forms (fresh, as tea, or in cooking), can have a slightly spicy and stimulating effect on the salivary glands.

Remember to consume these foods as part of a balanced diet and be mindful of any dietary restrictions or allergies. Additionally, it's important to maintain good oral hygiene practices to complement the benefits of these saliva-stimulating foods and prevent dental issues associated with dry mouth.

Saliva-Boosting Herbs: Some herbs, like fresh basil, can stimulate saliva production. You can chew on basil leaves or include them in your meals. Chamomile tea may also help increase saliva flow.

Aloe Vera: Aloe vera juice, can provide temporary relief from dry mouth symptoms. It has soothing properties and can help moisturize the oral tissues.

Breathe Through Your Nose: Breathing through your nose, especially during sleep, can help reduce dry mouth symptoms. When you breathe through your mouth, it can dry out the oral cavity. If you have difficulty breathing through your nose, consult with a healthcare provider or an ear, nose, and throat specialist.

Avoid Dehydrating Substances: Limit or avoid substances that can worsen dry mouth, such as alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, and spicy or salty foods. These can contribute to dehydration and exacerbate dry mouth.

Avoid Mouthwashes with Alcohol: Alcohol-containing mouthwashes can worsen dry mouth. Choose alcohol-free mouthwashes or rinse with warm salt water instead. Saltwater rinses can help maintain oral hygiene and relieve mouth dryness.

Use a Humidifier: Place a humidifier in your bedroom to maintain a moist environment, especially at night. Dry indoor air can contribute to nighttime dry mouth symptoms. A humidifier can help alleviate this.

Oil Pulling: Oil pulling involves swishing a tablespoon of coconut or sesame oil in your mouth for 15-20 minutes and then spitting it out. While it's primarily used for improving oral health, it may provide temporary relief from dry mouth by moistening the mouth's tissues.

Maintain Good Oral Hygiene: Proper oral hygiene, including regular brushing and flossing, is crucial in preventing dental complications associated with dry mouth, such as cavities and gum disease. Be gentle when brushing to avoid damaging sensitive oral tissues.

Medication Review: If medications are causing your dry mouth, consult your healthcare provider to discuss potential alternatives or dosage adjustments.

Stay Stress-Free: High-stress levels can contribute to dry mouth. Engage in stress-reduction techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga to promote relaxation and reduce the impact of stress on your oral health.

Saliva Substitutes: Over-the-counter saliva substitutes or artificial saliva products can be used to provide temporary relief for severe cases of dry mouth. These products mimic the properties of natural saliva.

It's important to remember that the effectiveness of these remedies can vary from person to person. If your dry mouth persists or is causing significant discomfort, consult a healthcare provider or dentist for a thorough evaluation and appropriate treatment recommendations. Addressing the underlying causes is essential for long-term relief.


See Oral Microbiome Analysis, OralFlor Scan®


Vasilis J. Sideris
Medical Doctor, Biopathologist (Microbiologist)
Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner, CFMP®

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