Readers ask, we answer: How do I stop dry mouth when I’m presenting?

Bryan asks:

“Is it normal to have dry mouth before public speaking?”

Hi, Bryan! Don’t worry — it’s common to experience dry mouth before presenting, especially if you’re nervous or anxious.

Dry mouth is a natural part of the body’s “fight-or-flight” survival response to stressful situations. Public speaking happens to be a common stress trigger for many people. On top of creating that annoying dry sensation often characterized as “cotton mouth,” your stress hormones produce physiological changes that can include a pounding heart, quickened breath, tense muscles and beads of sweat.

Here’s the good news — there are plenty of ways you can help keep your mouth moist the next time you step up to the podium.

• Keep a water bottle within reach during your presentation.

• Before you start, chew sugar-free gum to create more moisture.

• Avoid tobacco, caffeine, acidic drinks and alcohol, which can worsen dry mouth.

• Check with your dentist, who may be able to recommend solutions specific to your needs.

• Calm your presentation jitters by taking deep breaths, practicing your speech and preparing the room to make sure everything is set up correctly.

If you face dry mouth on a regular basis, it’s best to talk to a dentist or medical professional. He or she may be able to find an underlying cause or recommend medications or products to help. Beyond making you feel uncomfortable, chronic dry mouth can increase the likelihood of cavities, gum disease, oral infections and bad breath.