Dry mouth, clinically known as xerostomia… This text opens a new tab to Mayo Clinic’s website…, is caused by reduced saliva flow, or when saliva is absent altogether.
Dry mouth can affect the overall health of your mouth and teeth. And the dry, cold winter weather can exacerbate the problem.
Saliva is a critical player in protecting your child’s mouth and everything inside. Without adequate saliva, your child’s mouth may feel uncomfortable and cause discomfort or mild pain.
In this blog, we’ll outline everything you should know about dry mouth remedies for children. But first, let’s start with the basics.
The functions of saliva
Chances are you never thought about all the ways saliva helps your child stay healthy.
The functions of saliva include:
- Keeping your mouth lubricated
- Moistening food for easier chewing and swallowing
- Helping you speak clearly
- Providing digestive enzymes needed in your gut
- Promoting oral cleansing and fighting tooth decay
- Protecting hard and soft tissue in the mouth and aiding with soft tissue repair
As you can see, saliva is crucial for your child’s oral and overall health (and yours too!).
Signs of dry mouth
Your child may have symptoms of dry mouth, and you not realize there is a problem unless the discomfort is severe or affecting their speech or ability to eat.
A pediatric dentist or hygienist, like the team at Smile Surfers, is trained to recognize the signs of this condition.
- Cavities on specific parts of the teeth
- Low levels of saliva pooling under or around the tongue
- Difficulty swallowing food if not aided by liquid
- Loss of sense of taste
- Problems speaking due to low lubrication
- Burning feeling or pain inside the mouth
During your child’s regular exam, we’ll check for these signs and alert you if we notice any cause for concern.
What causes dry mouth?
There are medical conditions like diabetes that can create dry mouth.
For pediatric patients, the cause of xerostomia is likely to be a side effect of:
- Mouth breathing
- Side effects of medications
- Restricted breathing due to a cold, stuffy nose, or allergies
- Dry winter air
- Indoor heating
These conditions can happen at any time of year but can worsen during the colder months.
Dry mouth during winter
Cold and flu season causes many children to take over-the-counter medications to alleviate uncomfortable symptoms. This medication, in turn, can often aggravate the already dry mouth conditions by further dehydrating them.
What can you do to treat dry mouth? Keep reading to hear our recommendations!
Dry mouth remedies for children
Understanding the importance of adequate saliva flow is the first step.
Dry mouth might seem like an uncomfortable nuance, but it can be damaging. You must remember that it can lead to dental problems, like cavities, if left untreated.
Here are a few dry mouth remedies we recommend:
- Drink lots of water (lots!)
- Chew sugar-free gum to boost saliva production
- Use a humidifier in your home to put moisture back in the air
- Avoid sugary sodas and other beverages that are high in sugar
When your child is ill, medication, as prescribed by a doctor, should be used according to the directions. If the medicine has mouth-drying side effects, double down on drinking water to counteract the drying effects.
Visit your pediatric dentist
Lastly, if you’re ever in doubt about what to do, ask your pediatric dentist.
They can provide recommendations based on your child’s unique circumstances – something the internet cannot do.
We also value the importance of education for both parents and children. Through our blogs and one-on-one care, we aim to empower you with the knowledge to make informed and confident decisions for your child’s health.
Contact our board-certified pediatric dentists to schedule an appointment or ask us a question today. We’re more than happy to help!
Choose from our two convenient locations in Sumner and Richland, WA.