Looking to figure out what foods increase saliva production? Or caring for someone who is? If so, then you or someone you support may be experiencing dry mouth. Clinically known as xerostomia, it’s an oral health condition that occurs when a person’s salivary glands do not produce enough saliva to keep the mouth wet. It can be extremely uncomfortable and lead to a whole host of additional health problems.
But fear not, you are not alone when it comes to experiencing this condition. According to the Oral Health Foundation, roughly one in four adults have a dry mouth and that number increases to over 40% of adults ages 55 and older.
The foods and drinks consumed can either help increase saliva production to support alleviating dry mouth or could make the situation worse. So, in this post, we will look into what causes dry mouth, oral health issues that could arise from having a dry mouth, foods to avoid, foods that increase saliva, drinks that increase saliva, and I’ll give you some tasty hydrating meal and snack ideas.
And yup, you’re in good hands with the information in this post, as a registered dietitian specializing in dental health I write about all things dental nutrition and have experience helping people find foods that support saliva creation and taste good too! Scroll on for saliva-making information.
What Causes Dry Mouth?
A dry mouth is usually the result of some underlying condition. Many things could lead to developing a dry mouth, some of the common causes of it are as follows:
- Certain medications can cause dry mouth. Medications such as:
- specific antianxiety prescriptions
- specific antidepressants
- specific anticholergenics
- specific high blood pressure drugs
- chemotherapy drugs
- specific Parkinson’s medications
- Certain medical conditions may cause dry mouth such as:
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Other causes can be:
- mouth breathing
- head and neck radiation
- nerve damage
- tobacco and alcohol use
- drug use
Some of the causes of dry mouth are temporary such as taking allergy medication during allergy season or having a few drinks while some of the other causes can result in longer-term dry mouth. Such as having one of the specific medical conditions or being on certain medications long-term. Either way, having less than optimal saliva in your mouth can cause food avoidance, bad breath, lip or mouth sores, malnutrition, the feeling of social isolation and potentially just reduced general quality of life. For more on the causes of dry mouth, take a look at this information from Scotland’s National Health Information Site. With that being understood, let’s look into why saliva is important.
How Saliva Helps Your Mouth
Saliva helps your mouth in more ways than just keeping it wet. Saliva helps keep your mouth clean by assisting to remove food debris and bacteria that could stick to your teeth. On top of that, saliva supports creating a balanced pH in your mouth that gets rid of acid-causing tooth decay.
And that’s not all, saliva also contains enzymes, such as salivary amylase enzyme, that secrete when you eat and help you better digest food. Along with that, saliva helps you perceive the taste of food and enables a more enjoyable chewing and swallowing experience. So, yup along with keeping your mouth moist, saliva is crucial for various aspects of dental wellbeing.
Oral Health Issues That Could Develop From Dry Mouth
Since saliva is so crucial for mouth health, you can imagine having a dry mouth can surely be a fast track to developing some oral health issues. A dry mouth can lead to the development of tooth decay, cavities and/or gum disease. In addition, dry mouth can lead to thrush also known as an oral yeast infection.
Some less severe and may be temporary oral issues that could develop are cracked lips, cracked tongue, or cuts on the skin in the corners of your mouth. The oral health issues that could come about from dry mouth can range from just some discomfort to needing dental surgery to need gum surgery. Needless to say, regardless of how uncomfortable the issue is trying to avoid or minimize it can surely make working through dry mouth that much easier.
Foods To Avoid With Dry Mouth
Of course, while you are experiencing dry mouth some foods can make the situation worse. Exasperating the condition could lead to some of the above-mentioned oral health issues. So, if you have or are caring for someone with a dry mouth try to avoid these foods:
- Sour candy
- Dry toast
- Chewy, dry cuts of meat
- Salty chips
- Highly acidic foods such as limes, lemons, grapefruit, oranges, clementines
- Energy Drinks
- Salty granola bars
- Spicy foods
- Dry cookies
- Dry pastries
- Dry nut butter like peanut butter or almond butter
If this list feels limiting, fear not there are plenty of foods and drinks to include that help increase saliva. See the list below.
PS. For more information on highly acidic foods, please refer to my other article “Alkaline Acid Food Chart”.
Foods That Increase Saliva Production
Foods that result in extra chewing and/or are hydrating will help stimulate the production of saliva. Try to include these foods in your diet as realistically as often as possible when experiencing decreases saliva secretion.
- Chewing sugar-free gum
- Ice chips
- Nonspicy soups
- Nonspicy slow cooker foods such as beef and broccoli in sauce, pot roast and pasta with sauce
- Suck on lozenges, preferably sugar-free
- Frozen yogurt bars
- Yogurt with chopped fruits such as pears, apples or berries
And on top of healthy, whole foods that help increase saliva there are nutritious drinks that help too. So, check out these drinks that can up the mouth’s moisture content.
Drinks That Increase Saliva Production
- Bone broth
- Tomato juice
- Vegetable juices
- Herbal teas
- Coconut water
I know it can seem like a lot of food to avoid and a lot of other foods to enjoy. Here’s an image that helps shows some foods and drinks to enjoy!
Hydrating Meal and Snack Ideas
Yes, eating these saliva-making foods solo may help lessen dry mouth and dry mouth symptoms, but they can be made more enjoyable by having meals and snacks full of hydrating foods. If looking for saliva production food combination inspirations, try some of these suggestions:
- Smoothie with yogurt, berries, and spinach
- Chicken noodle soup
- Slow cooker shredded chicken with gravy and steamed broccoli, carrots and peas
- Cauliflower, cucumber and broccoli dipped in tzatziki dipping sauce
- Fruity hot herbal tea slightly cooled off with frozen melon balls
- Baby kale and spinach salad with shredded carrots, chopped tomatoes, shredded cheese and salad dressing and Coconut water for a drink
- Bone broth and an apple
- Slow cooker beef and broccoli in cooked in beef broth
For a one-pager guide on foods to avoid, foods to have and meal and snack ideas, subscribe to Dental Meal Plans Here and receive the one-pager guide as a PDF in your email inbox.
Having a dry mouth can come with an array of unpleasant feelings and physical discomfort. Especially when it comes to food, dry mouth can lead to avoiding eating as much as well as specific foods in fear that it could worsen the situation. Picking foods that increase salivary flow and production can result in eating adequate calories and helps nourish not just your mouth, but overall health too.
Food is just one aspect that can help support saliva, when it comes to dental care, oral rinses, oral hygiene and dental concerns please be sure to consult with a dentist. For some quick guidance on other things that may help dry mouth, check out The Cleveland Clinic’s dry mouth information. As always, I hope this information was helpful, for any questions, additional information or to further chat about things dental nutrition, please reach out via any means on the contact page.
Cheers To Saliva Producing Foods and Drinks
Additional Saliva Producing Information