8 Reasons Why Your Mouth Is Dry

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Dry mouth can make your mouth feel like Sahara desert

Dry mouth is something everyone experiences at some point of life. Normally it passes by it self but sometimes it persists and might become a condition that affects the standard of living and oral health. At that point we realise how important the saliva actually is.

Here are the most common reasons for dry mouth.

Dehydration

I start from the most common reason for the dry mouth, the dehydration. There are many reasons for the dehydration and some of them are not so well known amongst common people. Here are the most typical reasons:

  • exercise
  • drinking diuretic drinks (e.g. coffee, tea, coke, alcohol)
  • hot weather
  • air conditioning

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The dehydration caused by these reasons is easily cured by drinking enough water. For example if you drink a cup of coffee, drink same amount of water as well.

Dehydration can be caused by other reasons as well like

  • medication
  • illnesses (e.g. fever, diabetes)
  • vomiting, diarrhoea

Mouthwashes

Mouthwashes that contain alcohol can dry the mouth. If you experience dry mouth, it may cause bad breath because saliva is not around to kill bacteria.

It is bacteria that is causing the bad breath and without saliva it will build up quicker. If dry mouth is accompanied with an inadequate oral hygiene regime it will result in thick layer of bacteria (plaque). And the longer the plaque stays in one place, the more sinister bacteria there will be. Even amoebas! Eew!

People who experience bad breath will often turn to mouthwashes but it can actually go from bad to worse. The best thing to do when you get bad breath is to visit your hygienist, follow a good oral hygiene regime and keep yourself hydrated.

Even the alcohol-free mouthwashes can dry the mouth. There are so many chemicals in the mouthwashes that it is not possible to predict how your mouth reacts to one. If you are interested to read more about mouthwashes and if you should use them, read this.

Stress

Stress can cause the saliva flow to decrease leaving your mouth feeling sticky. Also all the stress related illnesses like depression and anxiety can cause dry mouth.

Medications

There are many side effects with medicines, one being the dry mouth. The most common medicines to cause dry mouth are

  • antihistamines
  • beta-blockers
  • antidepressants
  • anti-psychotics
  • muscle relaxants
  • diuretics

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Sometimes it is worth consulting your doctor if there would be an alternate medicine for the same condition – maybe this alternate medicine is not causing that many side effects. Also pills from different trade marks can have different composition even though they have the same active ingredient. So trying different trade mark might help with the side-effects.

Remember not to stop taking medicine before you consult your doctor.

Illnesses and Syndromes

There are illnesses that may cause dry mouth. The Sjögren’s Syndrome is one of them. Also Alzheimer’s disease and stroke may cause dry mouth.

Cancer that requires radiation therapy close to salivary glands can damage the salivary glands and this will cause dry mouth. Also chemotherapy will cause dry mouth as it will make the saliva thicker.

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes can cause dry mouth with some individuals. It is not well known why this happens but it has been suspected that the high blood sugar levels are the culprit.

Smoking and Recreational Drug Use

Smoking and chewing tobacco can cause dry mouth symptoms, so does the use of marijuana.

Methamphetamine aka Crystal meth also causes dry mouth and damaged “meth teeth”. But the dry mouth side effect is the least of the worries with this drug. Stay away from it unless you are in a hurry to the grave. It is also good to remember that marijuana can be a gateway to stronger drugs. So it is best to avoid it as well.

Mouth Breathing

Breathing through mouth because of blocked nose or because of anatomy of the facial structures (lips, jaw) causes dry mouth. Also some of the mouth breathing is habitual and some of it happens at night when you sleep. This reminds me that I’ve always wondered if the mouth breathing is a nice way to say you snore at night?

Toothpaste Ingredients

Toothpastes have many ingredients and they vary from toothpaste to toothpaste. But 2 ingredients to avoid when you experience dry mouth are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and zinc. SLS is found in many foam forming products like shampoos and it is better known by the name soap.

Also it is best to choose a toothpaste that does not cause your mouth burn or make it dry. The combo of chemicals reacts differently with each individual (like with mouthwashes) so you can find a suitable toothpaste for you by testing different toothpastes. Remember to always choose a toothpaste that contains fluoride (1450ppm).

How to Relieve the Dry Mouth

  • drink plenty of water
  • chew sugar-free chewing gum (preferably sweetened with xylitol or erythritol)
  • suck 100% xylitol pastilles (100% means that xylitol is the only sweetener used in the pastilles) – xylitol has an ability increase saliva flow. You can suck these as often you stomach can take.
  • suck on ice cubes
  • use dry mouth gels, sprays or lozenges that you can get from the pharmacist. Ask the pharmacist to check that they are tooth-friendly.
  • make sure your nose is not blocked, use decongestant before hitting the hay if it is
  • use small amount of olive oil before going to bed – spread it all around your mouth with your tongue. This will hopefully prevent you waking up because of the dry mouth at night.
  • set a room vaporiser to add moisture to the bedroom air if it is very dry – drying laundry indoors will do the same trick
  • seek help for the snoring from your doctor
  • think about changing your lifestyle habits especially if you can tick many boxes in the list of the reasons for dry mouth. Some things you cannot change, but those you can, might make a difference to your overall well being. If you are depressed and have medication for the depression – seek help for the root cause of the depression. Maybe a therapy?

Elmex Sensitive Professional Toothpaste Review

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Elmex Sensitive Professional toothpaste

Elmex is a very old brand by GABA International AG (Switzerland). Gaba International AG is owned by Golgate-Palmolive of the United States. They brought out Elmex Sensitive Professional toothpaste which has added benefits to their Elmex Sensitive toothpaste.

I am always sceptical about new oral health care products and I make my judgement by testing the product myself and asking experiences of my patients. Lets find out what my professional opinion is about Elmex Sensitive Professional toothpaste. There will be an ingredient list at the end of this post.

The Selling Speech

The manufacturer promises scientifically proven immediate and long-lasting pain relief for sensitive teeth. It is quite bold promise, but the older Elmex toothpaste versions have always been relatively good toothpastes because they contain organic fluoride called amine fluoride. Amine fluoride has been considered to be superior to more commonly used inorganic fluorides in toothpastes – sodium fluoride and sodium monofluorophosphate. But having said that, it’s good to bear in mind that the type of fluoride makes very little or no difference to a relatively healthy mouth.

The suprising fact with the Elmex Sensitive Professional toothpaste is that it does not contain amine fluoride. It contains sodium monofluorophosphate 1450ppm which is the recommended level of fluoride for adults. Any less would be ineffective. I am not sure why they don’t use amine fluoride with this toothpaste. But I try not to get stuck to this detail because there is something else in this toothpaste that will make it a super star of the toothpastes.

That is Pro-Argin technology.

Pro-Argin Technology

Pro-Argin technology system contains arginine and calcium carbonate. Arginine is an amino acid naturally found in saliva.

Once the arginine and calcium carbonate bind to the surface of the tooth, they will start to attract calcium. Calcium is the mineral we loose from the surface of the tooth (demineralisation) when we eat something with carbohydrates or drink something with carbohydrates or drinks that are acidic. The saliva normally tries to fix the surface of the tooth by returning the calcium and neutralising the acids (remineralisation). But often our life style habits are too much for the saliva to handle and not enough calcium is returned to the surface of the tooth.

This will result in cavities, hypersensitivity and/or erosion. The hypersensitivity happens because the tiny channels (tubules) leading from the surface of the tooth to the nerve of the tooth, loose their mineral cap. Open tubules cause the nerve to react to the temperature changes and pressure. It reacts by pain. So using a toothpaste that comes to saliva’s aid in remineralisation process, is definitely a good thing. Together with saliva the Pro-Argin toothpaste can block the tubules again with a mineral cap.

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Pro-Argin technology in toothpastes blocks the open tubules and therefore reduces sensitivity.

The Design

Well, the design has not changed really and there is no need to. It is a trusted brand with quality toothpastes so no need for any hocus pocus to make it more appealing.

I love the environmental advice on the packaging. When people get these hints on the products they use regularly it will raise awareness. Maybe the environmentally-friendly habits will find their way into peoples everyday life. Let’s save the world by little deeds!

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The Testing

Over the years of being a dental professional I have noticed that people struggle sometimes when they run into toothpastes that have the same design for opening the tube as Elmex Sensitive Professional.

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How to open that tiny little lid that looks like a sprocket? The answer is in the cap.

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Just turn the cap upside down and it will fit on top of the tiny lid. By twisting the cap the tiny lid will come off effortlessly.

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The consistency of the toothpaste is more a gel than a paste which is perfect if you are using Philips Sonicare toothbrush. It’s not too runny which I appreciate (no toothpaste marks on the sink) but will very quickly transform into liquid when brushing.

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The closer look shows that it is rather smooth in texture. So to my mind this means two things. It’s not too abrasive and also it most likely does not contain microbeads. The RDA level which tells you how abrasive the toothpaste is, should be under 100 for safe use of toothpaste. Elmex Sensitive Professional toothpaste has RDA level of 65. Perfect!

To know if a toothpaste contains microbeads, the polyethylene is the ingredient to look for. No-one should buy a toothpaste that contains microbeads as those tiny little beads will pollute our oceans. Elmex Sensitive Professional toothpaste does not have polyethylene in the ingredient list (see at the end of this post).

The toothpaste stays on top of the toothbrush bristles without dripping but it slowly disperses between the bristles if you have time to wait for this. I emphasise that you don’t need to wait – I just wanted to see what happens.

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I brush my teeth for two minutes and I get slight burning feeling in my mouth. It’s not unpleasant though and most of the non-professionals would say that the feeling is fresh, not burning. I’m just very sensitive.

The representative of Elmex Sensitive Professional toothpaste advised to spit the toothpaste out after brushing but not to rinse. So I follow this advice. The teeth feel very clean despite the low RDA level. That always makes me satisfied with the toothpaste.

I carried on using the whole tube of toothpaste twice a day and I must simply say Wow! I have been suffering hypersensitivity for example if I eat ice cream. The hypersensitivity does not happen while I eat it but as soon as I have stopped I get this excruciating pain, nerve pain that lingers way too long. There’s been no way to relieve it other than by avoiding the ice cream.

But after using one tube of Elmex Sensitive Professional, the hypersensitivity is gone! So I guess the Pro-Argin technology really works.

There is also an advice on the tube to rub the toothpaste over the most sensitive areas with a finger. The rubbing should continue for 1 minute. The toothpaste can be left in place without rinsing. Remember that this advice is only applicable from the age 12.

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Would I Recommend

I would definitely recommend this toothpaste to anyone suffering from sensitive teeth or dental erosion. Or anyone who wants to prevent these two things. I have not had this good results with sensitive teeth than with Elmex Sensitive Professional. Also the Pro-Argin technology has tendency to resist acids from a diet that contain food of low pH which is why it helps to prevent dental erosion.

I’m just wondering why manufacturers want to add soap (sodium lauryl sulfate) to their toothpastes as for some individuals it can work as an irritant. Sodium lauryl sulfate is the foaming agent in the toothpaste. It may cause dry mouth and aphthous ulcers. Mind you, nothing is scientifically proven but it is widely recommended amongst dental professional that people suffering from aphthous ulcers should change their toothpaste to non-foaming toothpaste.

Always remember to check from the ingredients if a toothpaste contains soap. There are other ingredients that may produce foam so not all the foaming toothpastes contain soap.

This toothpaste can be used for children as well (if they accept the taste), but remember to use only pea-size amount for children under 6 years and to very young children who cannot spit out yet, use only smear of toothpaste.

The Ingredients

  1. Calcium Carbonate – a mild abrasive. Combined with arginine the alkaline conditions are created to the surface of the tooth which will encourage phosphate ions and calcium to deposit on to the dentin
  2. Aqua – a main carrier for all ingredients. Helps dissolve other soluble ingredients. Helps the mechanical process of cleaning teeth in mouthwashes
  3. Sorbitol – a sweetener, humectant and texturising agent
  4. Arginine – an amino acid, the good in the toothpaste
  5. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate – a soap and therefore the foaming agent. Can work as an irritant
  6. Sodium monofluorophosphate – the good in the toothpaste
  7. Aroma – a chemical compound which adds odours to dental products. The specific aroma is not specified by the manufacturer
  8. Cellulose gum – a thickening agent
  9. Sodium bicarbonate aka baking soda – a mild abrasive as an ingredient of a toothpaste. Do not use your own baking soda to brush your teeth as it will be very abrasive.
  10. Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate – an agent to remove calcium from saliva. Used normally in tartar control toothpastes but with Elmex Sensitive Professional toothpaste I believe it is used for attracting the calcium from the saliva to the surface of the teeth
  11. Titanium Dioxide – a colorant and thickening agent
  12. Benzyl Alcohol – a solvent and preservative. In rare cases, this ingredient can cause contact allergy.
  13. Sodium Saccharin – an artificial sweetener
  14. Xantham Gum – a thickening agent
  15. Limonene – a natural solvent that cleans. Also it flavours the product.

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RDA Value in Toothpastes – Any Relevance?

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Gum & Enamel Repair Original Toothpaste

I promised in my post Oral-B Gum & Enamel Repair Original Toothpaste Review that if I find out the RDA level of this toothpaste I will announce it. Well I found it out recently, sort of. And this occurrence sort of made me annoyed once again. So I’m going to pour it out now.

I saw a representative from Oral-b recently. She was going to ask about our experiences of the Gum & Enamel Repair Original Toothpaste. I told mine and to my pleasant surprise she suggested we would fill an adverse reaction report. So we did. She said she had never heard anyone’s tongue getting numb from their toothpaste.

My most important question to ask from the rep was the magic RDA value of this toothpaste. I was dreading it as the reps are quite sensitive about the whole subject of RDA value. They know that it is thought widely amongst the dental professionals that the higher the RDA value is the more abrasive it the toothpaste is. So the manufacturers want to keep it a secret.

What Is RDA?

To explain it very simple way, the RDA is the grittiness of the toothpaste. If it is too high, it can cause tooth wear. But to explain RDA more elegantly, here is a quote by ADA (American Dental Association):

To help quantify the abrasivity of dentifrices, the ADA along with various academic, industry and government agencies established a standardized scale called Relative Dentin Abrasivity (RDA). This scale assigns dentifrices an abrasivity value, relative to a standard reference abrasive that is arbitrarily given an RDA value of 100.

All dentifrices at or below 2.5 times the reference value, or 250 RDA, are considered safe and effective. In fact, clinical evidence supports that lifetime use of proper brushing technique with a toothbrush and toothpaste at an RDA of 250 or less produces limited wear to dentin and virtually no wear to enamel.

ADA (American Dental Association)

So what this quote is saying is that most of the toothpastes are safe. Mind you, FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration) has set the safe limit of RDA to 200. But internationally it is the RDA 250 or below that is recognised as safe to use. I did a research and found out that many dental sites (both english and my native language) state that the highest safe RDA level has been set too high. It should be 100 or less.

Here is a link to one of the dental sites with a very good chart about abrasiveness levels in different toothpastes.

The Big Question

Ok, back to seeing the rep. I gathered all my courage and asked the big question.

Err, what is the RDA level of this toothpaste?

Oh boy, he looks annoyed. He asks if he has ever shown us a video about RDA. No, he hasn’t. He took his tablet out and put the video rolling. It was about RDA level of the toothpaste made by Oral-b. In the video they were demonstrating that it doesn’t matter what the RDA level is as long as it is below 250.

He looked victorious when the video ended. I asked again.

So, what is the RDA level of this toothpaste?

He said with a sigh that the RDA level of the Gum & Enamel Repair Original Toothpaste is somewhere between 100-200.  So this is what I meant when I found out the RDA level of this toothpaste, sort of.

Conclusion

It is good to remember that not only the toothpaste’s RDA level determines how much you will get tooth wear. If you brush your teeth straight after breakfast, with a hard toothbrush and with too vigorous technique (applying too much pressure), it has very little meaning what the RDA level of the toothpaste is.

You might be interested in these posts as well:

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Oral-B Gum & Enamel Repair Original Toothpaste Review