Dry mouth and acid reflux often go hand in hand. Saliva is alkaline and helps neutralize stomach acid, and thoroughly chewing food is an important part of the digestion process. By keeping the food slightly alkaline in the esophagus, it ordinarily neutralizes any stomach acid in the esophagus before the food enters the stomach. Dry mouth can interfere with this process, as the food in the esophagus would not be sufficiently wet with the alkaline saliva to counteract any stomach acid that would reflux into it from the stomach.
The Benefits of Drinking Water
Drinking enough water to keep from letting the mouth get too dry will help reduce acid reflux by aiding saliva production. Drinking water with meals not only helps with saliva; it also dilutes the refluxed stomach acid and helps wash it down into the stomach. Drinking water with meals helps moisten and soften the food so that it is more easily digested by the stomach. Drinking a glass of water after a meal could help prevent acid reflux from even starting.
Chewing Gum to Stimulate Saliva Flow
Many people find that chewing gum will help stop an acid reflux attack. Chewing gum or sucking on hard candy will stimulate saliva production and help with dry mouth and the acid reflux. However, on the flip side, chewing gum can also cause air to be swallowed, which can lead to belching and gas and aggravate acid reflux symptoms. Chewing hard candy is good as long as the candy is not sour and acidic which would add to the irritation caused by the acid reflux.
Warning about Some Remedies
Some people are helped by using peppermint or peppermint oil, or mustard, or a spoon of vinegar, or some other strong flavoring mixed with water, and it does stop the acid reflux at the time. But using any of these irritants repeatedly or over a long period of time could do more harm than good. The remedy probably worked the first time because the strong flavor stimulated saliva flow or because the water washed away the refluxed acid. But this was in spite of rather than because of the irritant itself.
Fast remedies and what makes them work. Generally, anything that stimulates saliva flow is good to help stop acid reflux. Water is a good remedy both for this reason and because it dilutes and washes down the refluxed stomach acid.
“Burning mouth syndrome: Causes – MayoClinic.com.” Mayo Clinic medical information and tools for healthy living – MayoClinic.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2010. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/burning-mouth-syndrome/DS00462/DSECTION=causes.
“Heartburn, Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER), and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).” National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2010. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/gerd/.