Just thinking about eating a grapefruit or a piece of sour candy can make your mouth water. But some people suffer with a saliva imbalance or low saliva production, both of which can create a dry mouth that is far more susceptible to plaque buildup and the development of cavities.
Even though saliva is released in your mouth at all times of the day, its peak production occurs when you taste, smell, and think of food – especially certain foods. Healthy individuals produce up to three pints of saliva daily, which amounts to an average of 10,000 gallons in a lifetime! If you’re falling behind on the amount of moisture in your mouth, however, it’s time to determine with the help of your holistic dentist why this is happening and how you can resolve the problem.
Reasons for Poor Saliva Production
Poor saliva production can occur for a variety of reasons, including:
- Salivary gland injury or disease, specifically Sjögren’s syndrome (an immune system disorder characterized by dry mouth and dry eyes)
- A side effect of certain medications
- Cancer treatment complication
- Chronic mouth breathing
- Extreme dehydration
There are many complications that can arise as a result of dry mouth, including bad breath, cavities, gum disease, painful swallowing, poor sense of taste, and even difficulty speaking.
It is always important to discuss your dry mouth problem with your holistic dentist before attempting any methods to improve saliva production. There could be a good reason for this condition and it’s important to determine the cause of your problem. Biocompatibility testing can often be helpful in making a diagnosis. You can have this kind of testing done through your Fort Lauderdale holistic dentist, a professional who is interested in a patient’s oral health as well as their overall well-being. Holistic dentists are trained to determine the source of a condition, not just cloak a problem.
Foods That Stimulate Saliva Production
Drinking eight to 10 cups of liquid every day when you have dry mouth is a common recommendation, and these beverages should ideally be without sugar since tooth decay and dry mouth go hand in hand. Water is the best choice, but juices without sugar and hot tea are acceptable. When you are ready to try a natural way to improve saliva production through the foods that you eat and you have the OK from your dentist, the following foods and drinks can help stimulate saliva flow:
- Apples. Chewing apples, which have a high water content, can increase salivation by stimulating the activity of the salivary glands and moisturizing the mouth. Apple juice can also stimulate saliva production. Just remember that apples do contain acids that can damage tooth enamel, so be sure to rinse with water afterward to balance out the pH in your mouth.
- Apple cider vinegar. Many home remedies are buoyed by apple cider vinegar which can be used as a mouthwash, to freshen breath, and to moisturize the mouth. Put a tablespoon of the vinegar in a glass of water and rinse your mouth a few times to get the biggest benefit.
- Hard cheeses. Cheese offers multiple benefits for oral health. Cheese counteracts the acidity of saliva while the strong flavor of cured cheese can increase saliva flow. Cheese is also good for the remineralization of teeth thanks to ingredients like milk protein, phosphates, and, of course, calcium.
- Chewy vegetables. Veggies that must be crunched into and that require vigorous chewing – like raw carrots, celery, and cucumbers – aid in stimulating saliva production. These foods also have a high water content which helps hydrate the mouth.
- Citrus. Sour or tart citrus fruits like lemon, grapefruit, orange, cranberry, or kiwi can kick your salivary glands into action just thinking about them. But though these foods do make your mouth pucker and trigger a saliva release, they come with a high acid content which could damage tooth enamel – always rinse your teeth with milk or water after eating citrus to balance out the pH of your mouth.
- Spices. Certain spices work well to remedy dry mouth by stimulating the salivary glands as well as taste buds. You don’t have to eat the spices directly of course, but rather cook pasta, salads, soups, or other dishes with liberal applications of cayenne pepper, fennel, ginger, or cardamom.
- Endive. As a bitter-tasting vegetable, the endive can also activate salivary glands, but you don’t have to suffer with it raw and on its own. Season meals or savory desserts with endive for less of a punch but the same salivary effect.
It’s also important to know what foods aggravate dry mouth. These can include wine, coffee, soda, tea, salty nuts, dry crackers, sugary desserts, or popcorn. If you’re suffering with low saliva production, cut back on these foods and beverages for the time being.
Because dry mouth is often an indication of a bigger problem festering within your body, seeing a holistic dentist is the right choice to get you on the right track to diagnosis, cure, and prevention. Discuss your dry mouth questions and concerns with holistic dentist Dr. Yolanda Cintron at the International Center for Dental Excellence.