How Dry Mouth Affects Oral Health
Many people have occasional dry mouth (xerostomia) because of dehydration or medication they take. Most times, it’s a temporary problem. But chronic dry mouth may indicate a serious medical issue and can cause a variety of oral health problems. Dry mouth happens when salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva. The team at Star Dental wants you to know about dry mouth and how it affects oral health.
Saliva is natural protection for your mouth. It helps to wash away food debris, neutralize acids, and restores minerals to the teeth. When the body doesn’t produce enough saliva, dry mouth can occur, which can lead to several oral health issues if left untreated.
Causes of Dry Mouth
Dry mouth can be caused by inadequate hydration or medications like blood pressure pills, antihistamines, and antidepressants. Nerve damage to the head or neck can interfere with saliva production. Also, medical conditions such as diabetes and autoimmune disorders or stress and anxiety may be underlying causes of dry mouth.
Signs of Dry Mouth
- Mouth feels sticky or dry
- Thick and stringy saliva
- Bad breath
- Changes in the sense of taste
- Problems, chewing, swallowing, or speaking
- Difficulty wearing dentures
Complications of Dry Mouth Can Lead To:
Enamel Erosion — When the mouth is dry, acids can stay on the teeth too long and wear away the enamel.
Tooth Decay — A dry mouth creates an environment that leads to plaque buildup, food particles sticking to the teeth, and acids remaining on teeth too long, which can cause tooth decay.
Gum Disease — If there is not enough saliva to wash away food debris, acid, and bacteria, the risk of developing gum disease is significantly increased.
Thrush — Small amounts of yeast exist in the mouth, digestive tract, and skin, but when there is inadequate saliva production, it sets the stage for an overgrowth of yeast, increasing the risk of thrush (oral yeast infection).
Also, you may experience sores or split skin at the corners of the mouth or dry, cracked lips.
Help for Dry Mouth
- Drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
- Brush and floss more frequently to keep plaque and acid from damaging your teeth.
- Chew sugarless gum to promote increased saliva production.
- Use alcohol-free mouthwash to avoid drying out your mouth.
- Don’t use tobacco products to help prevent dry mouth and serious health conditions.
- Try over-the-counter saliva substitutes to add moisture to your mouth.
- Limit the amount of caffeine consumed because of its drying effects.
If dry mouth is persistent, see a dentist or physician to find the source and receive treatment. For those who have damaged teeth because of chronic dry mouth, there are restorative options available to correct the damage. Contact our office to schedule an appointment. We serve patients in Roseville, California, and the surrounding areas.