Can Dry Mouth Cause Dental Problems?

Bad Breath - Person holding hand to mouth - Country Dental

In this Country Dental blog post we want to get to the root of dry mouth causes and look at treatment options. We will explore how dry mouth can negatively affect your oral health and what you can do to about it.

What does saliva do?

The saliva in your mouth contains essential anti-bacterial properties and enzymes that are important to our overall health. Saliva is not only necessary for helping with mastication (breaking down food), or helping you to taste, chew, and swallow. It also moisturizes your mouth, prevents dehydration, and maintains oral PH balance.

Saliva can even prevent infections by releasing phosphate and calcium minerals that help fight bacteria and keep your mouth healthy. Saliva is essential in protecting your teeth and fighting plaque, tooth decay and other oral problems like gingivitis and periodontal disease. We know that dry mouth causes serious dental problems like tooth decay and gum disease. If left untreated, it can also make it difficult to chew and swallow.

What is dry mouth?

Your mouth relies on your salivary glands to keep your mouth wet. If the salivary glands are not working properly (salivary gland dysfunction) it can cause dry mouth (xerostomia).

Can medications cause dry mouth?

Yes, many over-the-counter medications like sedatives, muscle relaxants, decongestants, and antihistamines can cause side effects and dry mouth is often one of them.

What are some other dry mouth causes?

There are a number of other outside influences that can affect your saliva production and cause dry mouth syndrome. Some of these may include certain diseases (like Hodgkin’s disease or diabetes), radiation therapy, nerve damage due to injury, certain drugs, or biological/hormonal changes (like menopause).

Other lifestyle conditions like stress, anxiety, dehydration, exercise, alcohol, tobacco, or breathing through your mouth may also cause temporary dry mouth conditions. Aging isn’t as big a factor but because many seniors take medications, dry mouth is often a common experienced side effect. The Oral Cancer Foundation reports that as much as 30% of tooth decay in seniors is a result of xerostomia.

What are some dry mouth symptoms?

Many people with dry mouth syndrome experience a parched dry feeling in their mouth and throat. Along with having a rough tongue, mouth sores, bad breath and cracked lips, some people are also prone to mouth infections. Dry mouth can even contribute to malnutrition and affect how food tastes.

What are some dry mouth problems?

Chronic dry mouth causes problems in a variety of ways. It can put you at a much higher risk for cavities, tooth loss, mouth infections and gum disease. Many sufferers have difficulty with chewing, swallowing food, maintaining nutritional needs, wearing dentures, and even speaking without experiencing some form of discomfort or pain. Chronic conditions may even affect social interactions and quality of life.

Is there a treatment for dry mouth?

Before they can recommend treatment, your doctor or dentist will first need to know what is causing dry mouth. Sometimes it may be a simple matter of adjusting medications, if applicable. That said, there are certain things you can do to temporarily relieve dry mouth symptoms.

Try avoiding drinks with sugar, caffeine, or alcohol and avoid salty and spicy foods. Chew sugarless gum and if you use a mouthwash make sure it is alcohol free. Drink clear water often, especially with meals to aid in chewing and swallowing. If you live in a dry climate you can also use a humidifier while sleeping. It is also important to maintain your dental hygiene by brushing with fluoride toothpaste after every meal and flossing regularly.

Summary

If you suffer from dry mouth, we cannot stress enough how important it is to visit your dentist regularly. Your dentist will be able to monitor the condition and health of your mouth, teeth and gums. If your dry mouth causes a chronic condition, we can also administer a fluoride treatment or protect your teeth with dental sealants.

The good news is that dry mouth syndrome is treatable. While there are artificial saliva sprays available for temporary relief, in order to treat and get rid of dry mouth we must first uncover the root cause.

About Country Dental

Here at Country Dental, we take your oral health very seriously. If we suspect that you may be experiencing health or dental problems due to dry mouth syndrome, we’ll do whatever we can to help you.  

If you still have any questions about dry mouth causes or treatment or suspect you may be suffering from dry mouth, please visit one of our three dental clinics in Cambridge,  Toronto or Fergus.

We offer a 24-hour emergency dental services call line plus family and kid’s dental services to patients throughout southern Ontario.

Prevention is the best way to take care of your teeth, gums, and oral health. Let us help. You can book a dental appointment online or by calling a Country Dental clinic nearest you:

Toronto:416-335-7377
Cambridge:519-620-7474
Fergus:519-787-7878