There are many medications that cause dry mouth as a side effect from antihistamines, to corticosteroids, to antidepressants. If you're taking one of these medications and noticing that your mouth often feels dry and cottony, then your first step should be to speak with your doctor. He or she may be able to reduce your dose or switch you to another similar medication. If this is not a possibility and you need to continue taking the drug that causes dry mouth, then it's important to take steps to address this — since dry mouth can perpetuate tooth decay and gum disease.
Brush your teeth immediately in the morning.
Your mouth tends to get driest at night when you're not drinking and swallowing regularly. When your mouth is this dry, oral bacteria proliferate, and the acids they secrete linger on your teeth, contribute to tooth decay. So when you have dry mouth, it's essential to brush your teeth first-thing when you get up in the morning. You can brush them a second time after eating breakfast.
Use a mouth rinse made for dry mouth.
Visit the tooth care aisle of your local pharmacy, and you'll find rinses made specifically for people with dry mouth. These rinses are meant to increase saliva production. Find one that appeals to you, and then use it after every tooth brushing session. If the rinse does not provide adequate results, talk to your dentist. There are stronger prescription rinses they can prescribe to you if needed.
Drink more water.
Keep a water bottle with you at all times and sip water throughout the day. This accomplishes two things. First, it keeps you hydrated, which ensures your body has the moisture it needs to produce saliva. Second, the water itself helps compensate for your lack of saliva and rinse the bacteria — and the acids they produce — off of your teeth so they don't linger and cause decay.
Visit your dentist often.
Even when you take the precautions above, you will be more prone to tooth decay and gum disease than the average person because of your dry mouth symptoms. If the decay is caught quickly, it can usually be corrected with a filling, whereas if it's left for a while, you might need a crown or even a root canal. By visiting your dentist for checkups every 6 months (or even more often if your dentist recommends it), you ensure any decay is caught early on.
For more information, contact local professionals like Centre Family Dentistry.