June 11, 2015

Why a dry mouth is bad for dental health

Your mouth may periodically become dry when you are nervous or when you breathe through it. However, a chronic dry mouth (xerostomia) is not normal and can cause several problems. Read about dry mouth here and how it can affect your dental health.

Saliva Flow And Dental Health

Saliva is actually the body’s primary defense against tooth decay. Saliva protects the mouth by:

  • Washing away food debris.
  • Neutralizing the acids that cause tooth decay.
  • Helping to break down food for easier chewing and swallowing.
  • Improving your ability to taste.
  • Bringing in substances that fight disease and rebuild tooth enamel.

If there isn’t enough saliva in the mouth, problems such as tooth decay, gum disease, fungal infections, and mouth sores can result.

Causes Of Dry Mouth

Dry mouth in and of itself isn’t a disease. However, it can be a symptom for a health problem or a side effect from medication use. Some of the causes of dry mouth include:

  • Medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, pain killers, diuretics, etc.
  • Tobacco or methamphetamine use.
  • Cancer therapy treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
  • Diabetes, menopause, and certain health problems in the body.
  • Sjögren’s syndrome, which is a condition where the immune system attacks the body’s moisture-producing glands.

Symptoms Of Dry Mouth

A dry mouth is an obvious indicator that you have a dry mouth. However, other symptoms you may experience include:

  • A sore throat.
  • Difficulty swallowing or speaking.
  • A prickling, burning sensation in the throat.
  • Saliva that seems thick and sticky.
  • Development of chronic bad breath.
  • A change in the sense of taste.

Treating Dry Mouth

Visit your dentist if you are having problems with a dry mouth. They will recommend the best solution, which may include:

  • Remedying the source of your dry mouth problem.
  • Drinking more water (and avoiding caffeinated, alcoholic, and sugary beverages).
  • Using artificial saliva or an oral rinse.
  • Chewing on sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva flow.