Mouth problems are common, but that doesn't make them any less unpleasant. Whether it be dry mouth, denture pain or bad breath, any mouth problem can cause discomfort, embarrassment and extra expense. Here are a few pieces of advice to help you deal with some of the most common ailments of the mouth.
General Mouth Care
See your dentist every six months for a professional cleaning and follow his or her advice. Brush twice a day. Floss at least once a day. This is the single most important step you can take to protect your teeth. Don't smoke or use any form of tobacco. Avoid sugar and fat, and eat fiber, fruits and vegetables. Make sure you get plenty of vitamin D, which can be found in fish, fortified dairy products and eggs, among other foods.
Whether you have plain old bad breath or a diagnosed case of halitosis, there are steps you can take to reduce the problem. The first, of course, is regular brushing and flossing. Clean your tongue as well. If that doesn't do the trick, you may need a professional cleaning. Or your foul odor may be the result of gum disease or cavities that require treatment.
Avoid foods that cause bad breath, such as garlic, onions and, surprisingly, meat. Lingering protein and the bacteria in your mouth can combine to form a noxious aroma. Instead, eat foods high in vitamin C such as citrus, melons and berries as well as crunchy, raw fruits and vegetables. Rinse after meals, coffee and other drinks, and keep hydrated. Don't rely on breath fresheners. Cut out smoking.
Everyone has experienced dry mouth, usually on waking in the morning, but for regular sufferers it's a consistent, nagging problem that never seems to go away. There are a few approaches that work, however. For one, always have water on hand and sip regularly, even during the night. Limit caffeine, as this can dry your mouth. Limit your alcohol intake and avoid mouth rinses that include alcohol because this is also dehydrating. If you smoke or chew tobacco, quit. Try an over-the-counter saliva substitute. Don't use over-the-counter antihistamines or decongestants. Use a humidifier in your bedroom at night. And breathe through your nose, not your mouth.
Ill-fitting dentures are nothing but trouble. The pain may start as a minor inconvenience, but it's persistent, and the sores and constant irritation can lead to more serious problems. Once you feel denture pain your first trip should be to the dentist. It's likely your denture plate needs to be recast or remade, something that should be done every three years or so anyway.
In the meantime, massaging your gums for a minute each day may relieve some of the discomfort. There are special gum-massage tools available, or you can use your thumb and fingers or a soft-bristle toothbrush. Rinse your teeth in a saltwater solution: one teaspoon of salt in one cup of warm water. Over-the-counter pain relief products such as Orajel may also help.
Mouth Sores: What To Do
The first thing to keep in mind is that you shouldn't disregard mouth sores. Left untreated, they can cause other problems, especially if they're severe or if they persist but don't cause pain. Canker sores are often caused by a vitamin C deficiency, which is easily cured - eat or drink more vitamin C. This can be found in everything from orange juice and citrus to melons and berries.
Sores are also caused by physical trauma, sudden weight loss, immune reactions, food allergies, and deficiencies in vitamin B12, folic acid, and iron. Dealing with some of these problems may resolve the sores. There are a number of over-the-counter remedies from antacids to topical pain relievers. Rubbing a teabag over the sore - or the oil from a vitamin E capsule - may also help with the pain.
Good mouth care is critical if we want to keep our teeth and gums in good shape and avoid other oral problems. There are usually simple ways to take care of mouth problems, whether it be dental issues or mouth sores. These simple steps should help you.
Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up to date on all of the latest health and fitness news.