If you’re experiencing dry mouth from your braces (or Invisalign® or retainer), try one of our 10 simple solutions for relief in no time.
Getting orthodontic treatment can be one of the most rewarding decisions you make in your life. Aside from the health and functional benefits of having straight teeth and a proper bite, the increased confidence and self-esteem that comes with having a beautiful smile has a positive effect on all areas of life, from school and work to personal relationships.
As beneficial as orthodontic treatment is, you may experience some initial discomfort or other symptoms, like having a slight lisp when you talk. These symptoms are usually minor and subside once your mouth and teeth adjust to your braces (or retainer, or Invisalign® aligner).
What is Xerostomia?
Xerostomia, or dry mouth syndrome, is another condition you may experience while undergoing orthodontic treatment. Xerostomia occurs when there is a reduction or absence of saliva in your mouth.
What Causes Dry Mouth Syndrome?
Many foods, drinks, and medications can cause dry mouth syndrome.
Breathing through your mouth and snoring when you sleep are other culprits when it comes to dry mouth.
Xerostomia can also be a symptom of more serious underlying health issues. Rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes are just a few of the medical conditions that can cause dry mouth.
As such, it’s important to talk with your doctor and rule out other factors before addressing xerostomia on your own.
Do Braces Cause Dry Mouth?
Braces can cause dry mouth for some patients.
This tends to be the case particularly if you do a lot of speaking throughout the day—giving lectures or conducting business meetings, for example.
The reason you experience xerostomia during orthodontic treatment is because the braces, Invisalign® aligners, or retainer may initially cause some irritation or gum swelling. Your body reacts by reducing saliva production, which in turn causes the increased dryness you feel in your mouth.
What Happens if Xerostomia is Left Untreated?
Xerostomia is uncomfortable and can make eating, swallowing, and talking difficult. It can also cause bad breath, excessive thirst, and tongue pain.
Saliva plays an important role in remineralizing your teeth and neutralizing plaque acids. That means if left unattended, dry mouth could lead to more serious oral health problems such as gum disease and tooth decay.
If you have ruled out more serious issues and have determined that your braces (or other orthodontic appliances) are indeed causing your dry mouth, then give one or more of our simple solutions below a try.
Just be safe and get approval from your doctor as needed before adding or eliminating anything from your diet or daily routine.
10 Solutions for Dry Mouth Caused by Braces, Invisalign®, or Retainers
TIP 1Stay Hydrated
We may be stating the obvious here, but drinking more fluids or sipping water frequently throughout the day is a sure-fire way of keeping dry mouth under control. Keep in mind that plain water is best, as drinks that contain sugar, alcohol, and/or caffeine can make the condition worse.
TIP 2Suck on Ice Chips
Sucking on ice chips is another way to moisten your mouth. It can also soothe any soreness you may be experiencing if your braces are new or you’ve just had an adjustment. You could even try small pieces of partially frozen melon or cucumber for a little added flavor.
Whichever you choose, just remember to suck, not chew(!) to avoid potential damage to your braces and teeth.
TIP 3Suck on Sugar-free Mints or Dry Mouth Lozenges
Sucking on sugar-free candies or mints can also help with the dryness caused by braces, retainers, or Invisalign®, while also keeping your breath minty fresh.
Mints that contain xylitol are the best choice, as it helps prevent tooth decay. Spry mints come in a variety of flavors and are sweetened with 100% natural xylitol. Other popular brands include Pur and Zellie’s.
If mints aren’t keeping your dry mouth at bay, you may want to try a lozenge that is specifically designed to combat Xerostomia. OraCoat XyliMelts, ACT Dry Mouth Lozenges, and Biotene Dry Mouth Lozenges are all highly rated dry mouth lozenge brands. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label and get your doctor’s permission if needed before using these products.
While mints or lozenges may put you on the fast track to a moister mouth, bear in mind they won’t remedy any additional discomfort you may be experiencing like the ice will.
TIP 4Eat Foods with High Moisture Content
Avoid foods that are dry and/or salty like crackers, chips, dry meat, bread, and toast. Instead, opt for “wet” foods and those with a high moisture content. Fruits and veggies, smoothies, soups, and stews are all good choices. Choosing moist fish and eggs over red meat and serving food lukewarm instead of piping hot can also help.
TIP 5Eliminate Tobacco Products
There are so many better reasons to stop using tobacco products that we almost didn’t add it to the list. But if eliminating dry mouth is what triggers you to kick the habit—hey, whatever works. It’s worth noting that using tobacco in any form (chewing tobacco, cigarettes, hookah, etc.) will dry out your mouth.
TIP 6Eliminate Alcohol
We’re sure most of you have heard of having cottonmouth after a night of heavy drinking, but even moderate alcohol use can be dehydrating. So, if your retainer, aligner, or braces are giving you a dry mouth (and assuming you are of legal drinking age), you may want to forego happy hour until you’re done with treatment. You’ll also want to make sure that the mouthwash you’re using is alcohol-free.
TIP 7Eliminate Caffeine
Caffeine is another ingredient that you’ll want to avoid during orthodontic treatment if your braces are causing dry mouth. Switch to decaffeinated versions of coffee, tea, and soda (or opt for plain water). Reach for energy boosting foods like whole grains, nuts, and salmon or bananas, apples, and citrus fruits instead of caffeine-laden energy drinks.
TIP 8Use a Dry Mouth Mouthwash
Whle choosing alcohol-free mouthwash is a good idea, using one that’s specifically formulated to combat dry mouth may provide even more relief.
TIP 9Try a Dry Mouth Spray
If your braces, retainer, or Invisalign® aligners are causing Xerostomia throughout the day, you may want to keep a bottle of dry mouth spray with you to use on the go when the need arises.
Once again, be sure to follow instructions and get your parents’ or doctor’s permission as needed before using.
TIP 10Use a Humidifier
If you’re primarily experiencing Xerostomia at night or are waking up with a dry mouth, running a humidifier while you sleep can help. This is because the increased moisture in the air helps support saliva production.
Using a humidifier is said to have many other benefits, including a decrease in snoring and a decrease in harmful bacteria in the air. It can also cause a reduction of dry, itchy skin.
In other words, if you do decide to use a humidifier to combat dry mouth, you may end up getting more than you bargained for—in a good way.
If you and your healthcare provider have ruled out other factors and have determined that it is your braces, Invisalign® aligner, or retainer that is causing your dry mouth, then we hope the simple solutions we shared here provide you with relief.
While we know it can be frustrating, try to remember that Xerostomia—or any other discomfort that you may encounter during orthodontic treatment—is very temporary, but the rewards of having a healthy, beautiful smile will be experienced for years and years to come.